Image credits: Unsplash
/
News Article

Ukraine Invasion Could Delay Sputnik Approval

By Alfonso Núñez | Fri, 03/04/2022 - 10:27

Despite being the first vaccine in the world to be authorized, the WHO and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have withheld approval of the Russian Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine and several countries still do not use it. The vaccine’s approval could be further delayed by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

 

Western countries such as the EU and the US do not use this vaccine and in some cases bar entrance to those vaccinated with Sputnik V. Furthermore, sanctions imposed as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could further stand in the way of the vaccine’s distribution. “The restrictions imposed by the US authorities (are) complicating RDIF (Russian District Investment Fund) efforts on the international promotion of the Russian vaccine products, have been lobbied by a number of large Western pharmaceutical companies. As a result of such unfair competition, billions of people around the world may be deprived of access to effective and safe Russian-made vaccines,” said RDIF.

 

WHO officials had been planning to visit the Sputnik V manufacturing sites in Russia as the next step towards vaccine approval but this visit seems less likely due to the current situation. However, studies have found that Sputnik V creates a strong resistance against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants, including the highly transmittable Omicron variant. An Italian comparative study found that the immune response caused by Sputnik V against Omicron was higher than Pfizer.

 

Mexico’s Ministry of Health’s Director of General Health Promotion, Ricardo Cortés Alcalá, discarded the unraveling Russian invasion of Ukraine as a reason for the further delaying in the World Health Organization’s approval of Russians Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.

 

“I think the World Health Organization will be able to analyze all of the information that it has of all vaccines to decide if it will allow or not the emergency use to facilitate the decision of other countries to allow the free passage of people regardless of the vaccines they have received,” Cortés Alcalá said.

 

Cortes Alcalá also supported the Mexican government’s decision to approve the Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use as it has facilitated the primary and “booster” vaccination of the general population.

 

Mexicans vaccinated with Sputnik V have been unable to enter countries that do not have the vaccine on their approved list, but Cortés Alcalá is hopeful policies will change in the future.

 

According to the Ministry of Health, Mexico has received 20 million Sputnik V vaccines from Russia, making up almost 10 percent of the 216 million doses it has received along with vaccines from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Cansino, Janssen and Moderna. Currently, however, no more shipments of vaccines are expected to arrive from Russia as the vaccines might take time to be redistributed while the invasion of Ukraine continues.

 

Photo by:   Unsplash, Lucas Vasques
Alfonso Núñez Alfonso Núñez Journalist & Industry Analyst