Russian manufacturer confirms Guyana’s Sputnik V authentic; Health Min. wants apology from Harmon

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The General Director of the Corporate Centre of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Alexander Chistyakov, has confirmed the authenticity of the shipments of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines sold to Guyana by an authorised company called Aurugulf, dismissing allegations made by this country’s Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon, that the vaccines here could be fake.

Chistyakov heads the Human Vaccine Limited Liability Company (LLC), a wholly owned subsidiary of the RDIF, which is Russia’s sovereign wealth fund. The Sputnik V vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, was registered by the Ministry of Health of Russia.

And, the Human Vaccine LLC is recognised as an intermediary for the Sputnik V vaccines having announced the signing of an agreement for the supply of 220 million doses of the two-dose Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), for example.

Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon (Photo: APNU+AFC/June 17, 2021)

Previously, Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony, assured members of the public that the government ordered 400,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine from a supplier in Dubai, who had authentic access to them because the authorities here were sure about the effectiveness of the vaccines.

He made this disclosure in response to statements made by Harmon, calling for a suspension in the use of the vaccine solely based on a report he found in a tabloid newspaper in Norway which questioned how the vaccines were acquired.

Still, the Opposition Leader requested further evidence of the authenticity of the transaction.

On Tuesday, an official letter from Chistyakov, which was released by the Ministry of Health, stated: “… (the Sputnik V vaccines) with below listed batches that have been dispatched to Aurgulf (UAE) for further transportation to countries where Aurugulf received authorisation for selling and distribution of “Sputnik V”, including Guyana.”

Based on the batch numbers provided by Chistyakov, there have been five shipments of the Sputnik V vaccines to Guyana; these totalled 244, 268 first doses and 61,268 second doses. The Russian vaccines, unlike the AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines that are also used in Guyana’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout, have different first and second doses.

A statement from the Ministry of Health on Tuesday highlighted, “The batch numbers issued by the RDIF matches that of the vaccines received by the Ministry of Health. So now there is no doubt about the authenticity of the Sputnik vaccine in Guyana.”

Based on checks done by the News Room, the batch numbers listed matched those written on some local vaccination cards. With this confirmation from the RDIF Director, the Health Ministry called upon the Opposition Leader to withdraw his “reckless and irresponsible” statements about the authenticity of the vaccines.

The statement also called for him to issue a public apology to the Guyanese people for the “irreparable harm” he has done to the national vaccination programme, including the distrust created and the vaccine hesitancy that he may have caused, indirectly putting the lives of Guyanese at risk.

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