Staff Writer

As the global demand for COVID-19 vaccines continue to increase, a position also worsened by rising cases in India which manufactures the Covishield (the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine) and Covaxin, many African countries have begun turning to Russia to acquire its Sputnik V vaccine.

This comes as India halted large exports of vaccines in an effort to expand its domestic vaccination programme with country currently seating on 332,730 new cases, bringing the country total caseload to over 16 million and deaths reaching 186,920.

In Namibia, the Sputnik V is among COVID-19 vaccines that government, through the Ministry of Health have approved that they can imported for use in the country.

The vaccine, which was approved by Russia in August last year, has already received approval in 26 countries and has been administered to more than 2 million people worldwide.

According to the late-stage trial results published in the Lancet medical journal, the vaccine, seems more promising for South Africa as the vaccine gives around 92 percent protection against the coronavirus.

Sputnik V is one of three Covid vaccines worldwide with an efficacy higher than 90 percent in symptomatic cases. The other two are Pfizer / BioNtech (95 percent) and Moderna (92 percent).

The journal deemed Sputnik V to be safe, saying it offers complete protection against hospitalisation and death. The results were based on data from 19 866 volunteers, of which a quarter received a placebo.

Unlike other similar vaccines, the Sputnik jab uses two slightly different versions of the vaccine for the first and the second dose – given 21 days apart.

The idea is that using two different formulas boosts the immune system even more than using the same version twice – and may give longer-lasting protection.

Namibia is also set to benefit from the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, which is being spear head by the African Union in partnership with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), which has secured over 300 million doses of Sputnik V vaccine for its member states.