On March 25, 2021, the Russian-manufactured Sputnik-V Covid-19 vaccine arrived in Kenya after it was approved by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.
It was registered for use in Russia in August 2020, becoming the first registered Covid-19 vaccine out of 165 being developed across the world.
The jab costs approximately Sh11,000 with at least 75,000 doses having been shipped into the country.
The jab will only be administered to persons aged above 18 years among other requirements.
According to Lancet, the efficacy of Sputnik V is 91.6 percent hence among the only three vaccines in the world with an efficacy of over 90 percent.
“This interim analysis of the phase 3 trial of Gam-COVID-Vac showed 91·6% efficacy against COVID-19 and was well tolerated in a large cohort,” said Lancet in their report.
Sputnik V was the second vaccine to be approved in Kenya, but the first with over 90 percent efficacy rate. Astrazeneca was the first in the country but has 76 percent efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 and 85 percent efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 in participants aged 65 years and over.
With the recent surge in covid-19 cases in the country and reports of new Covid-19 variants, the country needs a vaccine with a bigger efficacy, preferably over 90 percent. Globally, the only other two vaccines with over 90 percent efficacy are the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which are not available in Kenya.
As of yesterday, Kenya’s death toll due to Coronavirus was at 2,147 with the country’s caseload standing at 132,646. With the cases increasing daily, the Sputnik V vaccine is the best bet for Kenya for some form of normalcy to resume.
Apart from Kenya, over 56 other countries have approved the Sputnik V vaccine. They are Mauritius, Russia, Belarus, Argentina, Bolivia, Serbia, Algeria, Palestine, Venezuela, Paraguay, Turkmenistan, Hungary, UAE, Iran, Republic of Guinea, Tunisia, Armenia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Republika Srpska (entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina), Lebanon, Myanmar, Pakistan, Mongolia, Bahrain, Montenegro, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Gabon, San-Marino, Ghana, Syria, Kyrgyzstan, Guyana, Egypt, Honduras, Guatemala, Moldova, Slovakia, Angola, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Sri Lanka, Laos, Iraq, North Macedonia, Morocco, Jordan, Namibia, Azerbaijan, Philippines, Cameroon and Seychelles.
The European Union is also considering opening doors for member countries to order the vaccine, with Germany already announcing its readiness to procure the vaccine.
“On the Russian vaccine, I have been of the opinion for some time that we should use any vaccine that has been approved by the European medicines regulator,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Reuters reports that the European Union has been discussing the possibility of procuring the Sputnik-V vaccine to help vaccinate its population of 450 million people.
“Hungary and Slovakia have already bought the Russian shot, the Czech Republic is interested, and the EU official said Italy was considering using the country’s biggest vaccine-producing bioreactor at a ReiThera plant near Rome to make Sputnik V,” reported Reuters.
The European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen had previously questioned Russia’s reasons for exporting millions of doses despite a slow rollout at home, where fewer people have been vaccinated. However, they also seem to have loosened the stance.
Vaccine apartheid has also come into the picture where the wealthy countries are segregated and prioritized for the vaccine roll-out while the poorest countries are set to wait.
Activists across the world have called out the vaccine apartheid that has so far been witnessed and called on the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies to share technical know-how in an effort to speed the global vaccination project.
“There’s no question poorer countries are having a hard time affording doses,” said Dr Howard Markel, a pandemic historian at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “Even if they were at wholesale or cost there are a lot of different markups.” an activist is quoted by The Guardian.