‘T&T’s Rowley out of line and reckless, Sputnik V saving lives in 74 countries’ – Dr Ramsammy
SEE BELOW FULL COMMENTARY OF DR LESLIE RAMSAMMY – ADVISOR TO MINISTRY OF HEALTH
PM ROWLEY OUT OF LINE AND RECKLESS – SPUTNIK V VACCINES SAVING LIVES IN 74 COUNTRIES
Globally, the use of COVID-19 vaccines became an emergency, an imperative. Individual countries considered clinical trials data and used their national registries to approve emergency use for vaccines. The UK and other European countries began using Astra Zeneca before World Health Organization (WHO) approval.
The US began using Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson before the WHO approval. Russia began using Sputnik V before WHO approval. India, China began using locally produced vaccines before WHO approval. Given the data available to us and which were submitted to the WHO, Guyana made a decision that saving lives is more important than risking people’s lives and approved Sputnik V, AZ, SinoPharm, Pfizer and other vaccines. Guyana did not do so lightly. Where we needed to, Guyana utilized other independent scrutiny.
For example, with SputnikV, we considered not only the data submitted from clinical trials by Russia, but also carefully considered the scrutiny of the clinical trials data done by the Lancet, the British Medical Journal, one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world.
The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago is out of line. Reckless too. He insulted Guyana and the seventy-four countries that presently are using vaccines like Sputnik V. Guyana has utilized three vaccines in our program – Astra Zeneca, SinoPharm and Sputnik V. So far, more than 225,000 persons (48% of the adult population in Guyana) have received their first dose vaccines. Of these persons, 95,000 (20% of the adult population) are now fully vaccinated, having also received their second dose vaccines. President Irfaan Ali and his Government acted in the best interest of our people and, globally and in CARICOM, Guyana’s bold and decisive actions on COVID-19 vaccination is acknowledged and admired.
Already, Guyana is seeing the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination. Only a handful of persons who received their first dose (less than 0.1%) have tested positive for COVID-19 after they would have had their first dose vaccines. In terms of each of the vaccines, AZ, SinoPharm or Sputnik V , testing positive for COVID-19 after taking the vaccine, is less than 0.01%. But the majority of these persons who would have tested positive for COVID-19 are likely to have been infected prior to taking their vaccines. Of the persons who are fully vaccinated, not one has tested positive after their second dose. Not one person has been in the ICU after they were fully vaccinated. These are the facts.
In defending the vaccine fiasco in his country, Prime Minister Rowley, unwittingly or deliberately, implied that Guyana’s successful vaccination program so far is an illusion because Guyana utilized vaccines not approved for use. He boasted that Trinidad and Tobago has the most vaccine doses already in country than any other country in CARICOM, except Guyana, but that Guyana’s vaccines do not count since they are not approved. I will not comment on how Prime Minister Rowley has managed his country’s vaccine program; how he has managed the Island’s vaccine program is a matter his people have already pronounced on. The criticism from his own people must be stinging enough for Prime Minister Rowley to attempt changing the narrative. It is his right, if he chooses to change his country’s narrative, but he should not seek to change his country’s narrative at Guyana’s expense. Let me set the record straight.
First of all, at the time the Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister stated that Trinidad and Tobago had within their country 234,000 doses of vaccines, Guyana had in our possession 465,000 doses of vaccines, twice the amount of doses that Prime Minister Rowley’s country had. But this is not the important point, it is his raising legitimacy issues with the vaccines Guyana has approved for use. Let me make it clear – all the vaccines in use in Guyana were registered and approved for use by Guyana’s Food and Drug Analyst Department. Those registrations and approvals are not automatic. They are based on a number of considerations and a process Guyana has used for decades. It is the same process that saved thousands of lives when we registered Indian-produced and locally-produced HIV medicines.
The following are vaccines and the amount administered and present in Guyana: Astra Zeneca (140,400 doses), Sinopharm (20,000 doses), Sputnik V (305,000 doses). In addition, Guyana expects to receive an additional 471,000 doses of vaccines between now and September, as follows: 38,000 doses of Astra Zeneca vaccines in July from COVAX, 183,000 doses of Sputnik V in June/July, 100,000 doses of SinoPharm from China within the next two weeks, 150,000 doses of vaccines, including the Johnson and Johnson vaccines by August from an arrangement with the African Union. With what Guyana has and what is coming, Guyana has secured enough vaccines to vaccinate all adults before the end of this year. We hope this would be true for all CARICOM countries.
The vaccines used in Guyana are all safe and effective. This includes Sputnik V. The largest amount of vaccine doses used in Guyana as of now is the Sputnik V vaccines. Millions of doses of this vaccine have been administered safely to persons around the world. Production of the vaccines are now global. Not only are these vaccines produced in Russia, but production has started in India, China, South Korea, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt. Production is also likely in a number of European countries.
Sputnik V vaccine effectiveness and safely have been scrutinized by the British Medical Journal, the Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journal. Lancet studied the clinical trial results for this vaccine. They did not take anybody’s word; they did their own scrutiny of the clinical trial data. As reported in the Lancet, Sputnik V has a 93% effective rate of preventing SARS-CoV 2 infection. This effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 infections is comparable to the Pfizer vaccines in the USA. But the most important data is that when persons are fully vaccinated with Sputnik V, these persons are 100% protected against serious COVID-19 illness.
The Gamaleya Research Institute, the developer of Sputnik V vaccine, is one of the most respected biomedical research labs in the world. The vaccine is in use in 74 countries around the world, in all continents, except in North America. Fully 33% of all counties in Latin America are using the Spunik V vaccine. More countries use Sputnik V today than use Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson because these are not yet available to most countries.
Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines are presently undergoing World Organization (WHO) approval process and is expected to receive WHO approval within months. So far, WHO has completed evaluation of the clinical trials data for and has approved Astra Zeneca, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, SinoPharm, and SinoVac vaccines. Both Moderna and Sinopharm vaccines only obtained approval recently. Sputnik V vaccine is also being evaluated by the EU Regulatory Authority and is expected to be approved within months.
Saving lives, rather than risking people’s lives is the reason why more countries are turning to Russia for Sputnik V vaccines. Recently UNICEF, the UN agency responsible for children and adolescents, signed a contract with Russia to procure 220 million doses of Sputnik V. When availability of all vaccines no longer is an issue countries can pick and choose. Right now the vaccine in front of us, as Dr. Tony Fauci puts it, is the best vaccine.
Dr. Leslie Ramsammy
June 16, 2021