Rose-Mary Haufiku

Minister of Health and Social Services (MoHSS), Kalumbi Shangula, has confirmed that Namibia is moving ahead to import the Russian Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.

Although the minister was not clear as to how many doses the country will be importing, he confirmed that the ministry was moving ahead with the procurement which is supposed to aid the existing COVID-19 vaccines in the country. Shangula said he can’t exactly say when the vaccines will be imported into the country since “it’s a procurement process, so it’s still ongoing. We haven’t seen any deliveries.”

On how many doses of Sputnik V are going to be imported, Shangula said , “people at the procurement will know how many we have ordered, it doesn’t also mean that what you ordered is what you are getting.”

The Sputnik V is among three other vaccines that have been approved by the Government through the MoHSS for importation into the country.

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

The Sputnik V has an efficacy higher than 90 percent in symptomatic cases. The other two are Pfizer/BioNtech (95 percent) and Moderna (92 percent).

The Lancet medical 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, 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.

Neighbouring South Africa is moving to engage the private sector to assist in the funding for the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines, while the country’s medical aids have agreed to cover for their members.