Sun, 28 Nov 2021

Poorest nations await delayed Russian Sputnik vaccine

Robert Besser
20 Oct 2021, 02:06 GMT+10

MOSCOW, Russia: Production problems and other issues have caused millions of people in developing nations, from Latin America to the Middle East, to wait for millions of additional doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine.

Venezuela has only received 4 million doses of the 10 million it ordered in December 2020, while Argentina has received 14.2 million doses of the 20 million it purchased.

Launched in August 2020, Sputnik V has been approved for use in some 70 countries.

"For a while, it was the only game in town" said Judy Twigg, professor of global health at Virginia Commonwealth University, as reported by the Associated Press.
Unlike other COVID-19 vaccines, Sputnik V's first and second doses are different and not interchangeable, and its production in Russia has faced reported difficulties, especially related to manufacturing its second component.

Life science data analytics firm Airfinity estimates that 62 countries have supply agreements for 1 billion doses of Sputnik V, but only 48 million have been delivered.

However, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which markets the vaccine abroad and has production contracts with 25 manufacturing facilities in 14 countries, stressed that it "is in full compliance with Sputnik V supply contracts."

In an interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday, Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Fund, said that all supply issues "have been fully resolved, and all issues with the second component are resolved in all countries," as reported by the Associated Press.

While many developing nations turned to China and Russia to purchase vaccines, the World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency have yet to approve Sputnik V for use.

In Argentina, shipment delays and a COVID-19 surge in March forced the government to negotiate with other pharmaceutical companies.

Iran has received only 1.77 million doses of Sputnik V out of the 60 million it was promised. Last month, Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi urged those who have received their first dose to use AstraZeneca as their second.

In Turkey, only 400,000 doses have arrived as of June, despite officials announcing a deal in April for 50 million doses to be delivered within six months.

"The whole process is a black box. There is no transparency," opposition lawmaker Murat Emir said last month.

India was promised 125 million two-dose sets, but less than 1 million were administered by 6th October, and many people in Argentina and Venezuela took different vaccines for their second doses due to the delivery delays.

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