In accordance with pharmaceutical firm, 15 million doses of Sputnik vaccine are prepared for South Africa

Vial of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, seen at the Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow on Aug 6, 2020.

  • The Ministry of Health has told the cabinet that two local companies could secure more than 20 million doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V for South Africa.
  • One of the companies confirmed it had been allocated 15 million doses.
  • These vaccines could be brought to South Africa once they are approved for use in an emergency, the company said.
  • More articles can be found at www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

A South African pharmaceutical company stands ready to bring fifteen million doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V into the country immediately as soon as it receives emergency clearance from local health authorities.

South Africa’s vaccination campaign, due to start this week, was messed up after the health department stopped distributing Oxford / AstraZeneca’s vaccines. This, according to a new study, found that the vaccine offered minimal protection against the 501Y.V2 variant identified in SA.

Bloomberg reports that the Department of Health has tabled a proposal to Cabinet for vaccines containing up to 23 million doses of Sputnik, which were made available to South Africa through two pharmaceutical companies.

One of the companies, Lamar International, confirmed to Business Insider that it has already received 15 million doses of the Sputnik vaccine from the Gamaleya Institute, which developed the vaccine and is part of the Russian Ministry of Health.

According to a Lamar spokesman, the cans could be flown to South Africa as soon as the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) registers them for the emergency. “As soon as a flight is available,” she added.

Russia began using the Sputnik V vaccine for emergencies in August 2020, making it the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine. Two million people have already received the vaccine. It has been approved for use in a number of countries including Iran, Mexico, and Argentina. Hungary was the last to approve Sputnik on Monday. The Philippines are currently in talks about 25 million doses, Fortune reports.

A peer-reviewed study published last week in the international science journal The Lancet showed that the vaccine was 92% effective after two doses (three weeks apart) in a study of 20,000 people. This is among the highest rates of effectiveness reported for Covid vaccines.

However, there is still no evidence that Sputnik would be effective against variant 501Y.V2.

The Lamar spokesman said the Gamaleya Institute is currently testing efficacy against the variant in its laboratories and additional data is expected this week. This is presented to SAHPRA.

Sputnik is based on a genetically modified adenovirus – a common virus that causes flu and colds – that renders the Covid virus harmless. The vaccines must be stored at two to eight degrees Celsius. The Sputnik vaccine is estimated to cost $ 20 (R 300) for two doses, making it cheaper than Pfizer ($ 26), Moderna ($ 60), and China’s Sinovac ($ 27). But it’s more expensive than AstraZeneca ($ 6).

While the director of the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) and vaccine expert Professor Willem Hanekom told SA health publication Spotlight that the Sputnik results were rigorous, he noted that the study was not diverse – only white men were included, and there is no mention of effectiveness on HIV.

Lamar International was founded with Forrester Pharma by Jerome Smith, one of the founders and former CEO of Cipla Medpro, the large generics group. Smith resigned in 2013 and later sued Cipla in a dispute over the bonuses paid to him.

Compiled by Helena Wasserman

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