PERSONS who have been inoculated against COVID-19 with the Sputnik V vaccine will enjoy hassle-free travel to most Caribbean countries, as the nations have agreed to recognise the Russian-made serum. “In the Caribbean, while some countries are not using the Sputnik V vaccine, the countries in the Caribbean have agreed that if you are vaccinated with Sputnik V, they will recognise it as a person receiving the vaccine and being fully vaccinated if you have both doses, so that’s not a problem,” Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, said during his COVID-19 update, on Friday. The minister said all Caribbean countries, except Trinidad and Tobago, have agreed to recognise the vaccine.
The Sputnik V vaccine is described by its maker, the Gamaleya National Research Center, as the “world’s first registered COVID-19 vaccine.” And as of April, 2021, it has been approved for use in 60 countries including Russia, South Korea, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates.
Phase Three trial data on the vaccine published in The Lancet, on February 2, 2021, show 91.6 per cent efficacy against symptomatic infection, placing the vaccine on the same playing field as the mRNA vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna, for which the original efficacies were 95 per cent and 94.1 per cent, respectively.
“The development of the Sputnik V vaccine has been criticised for unseemly haste, corner cutting, and an absence of transparency. But the outcome reported here is clear and the scientific principle of vaccination is demonstrated, which means another vaccine can now join the fight to reduce the incidence of COVID-19,” the Lancet reported in its Volume 397, issue 10275, at pages 642 – 643.
However, while the World Health Organization (WHO) is yet to approve the Sputnik V vaccine, Dr. Anthony said that the vaccine is “in the pipeline” of gaining approval, as the WHO would have conducted various inspections at the manufacturing facility, among other things, in a bid to grant approval.
“They would have done those inspections, they would have written reports, they would have asked for clarification, so that process is an ongoing one. I guess once they are satisfied then they would issue at least the emergency use listing,” he said.
Further, Minister Anthony said: “When that is going to happen? We can only depend on WHO to tell us, we don’t know when that is going to happen, but I guess we will know very soon.”
In his view, however, given the number of countries which use the vaccine, approval is anticipated. “The Sputnik V vaccine is used around the globe, so I think the usage, the prevalence of it in various countries, WHO would have to seriously look at it and maybe tell us when they are going to approve,” Dr. Anthony related.
He reasoned that while there is no globally accepted mechanism in place to determine which vaccines are recognised, individual countries have now been adopting their own rules. This paves the way for countries to access more vaccines based on their own discretion.