Still no confirmed date for Sputnik second dose
- but Health Minister says ‘first dose is better than no dose’
By Vishani Ragobeer
There is still no confirmed date for the arrival of the second dose of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine as Russia continues to battle its surge in COVID-19 infections but Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony is urging unvaccinated Guyanese to come forward and take their first doses.
The Health Minister made this call on Tuesday during his daily COVID-19 update, where he emphasised that the ministry has first doses of the Sputnik V vaccines as well as first and second doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccines.
He also noted that the ministry has secured the second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for those people who have taken the first dose and are now due for the second booster shot.
“As everyone knows we’ve had challenges getting the second dose, and this is a global problem (with) second doses for Sputnik V (since) there has been a shortage because there is a spike of cases in Russia and they had repurposed some of their exports to deal with what was happening internally,” the Health Minister said.
According to Reuters, Moscow – the capital of Russia – recently experienced a brief spike in demand for vaccines after the authorities made vaccination compulsory for service sector workers in public-facing roles. Moreover, it was reported that the country’s health ministry recommended that clinics begin administering ‘booster doses’ to people vaccinated six months or more. These booster doses are additional jabs given beyond the first and second doses administered.
On Saturday, Aljazeera news reported that Russia reported 697 COVID-19 related deaths, the most confirmed in a single day and a record high for the fifth day in a row.
Still, on Tuesday, the Health Minister opined that Russia appears to be slowly overcoming its challenging surge in infections.
“… So, I expect that second doses would become available for export and as soon as it is available for export we would be getting those exports into Guyana,” he assured members of the public.
At the end of May, the ministry announced that the country had no more second doses of the Sputnik V vaccines, following the delayed arrival of supplies.
Sputnik V, unlike the AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines, has a second dose that is different from the first dose. Initially, the country had been administering this second dose some four weeks after the first week but that has been extended to about 12 weeks now.
This is due to information provided by the Gamaleya Research Centre, which developed the Sputnik V vaccine. The centre, in a press statement, said it is possible to increase the minimum interval between the first and second vaccine shots from the earlier approved 21 days up to three months.
As the country awaits those second doses, the Health Minister underscored, “… First dose is better than no dose and when you get both doses, you will be fully immunised.”
He, again, stated that no individual who has passed away while receiving treatment at the National Infectious Diseases Hospital, had been fully vaccinated (that is, immunised after receiving both first and second doses).
Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony also stated that there has been a noticeable increase in the number of new infections recorded in Region Nine (Upper Takutu- Upper Essequibo).
He said that there have been 134 new cases in this region. Overall, there are about 53 active cases in Lethem, 50 cases in Tapachinga, 41 cases in St. Ignatius, 31 cases in Sand Creek and 25 cases in Aishalton.
The minister said that the local health authorities are monitoring the situation and have been working on increasing vaccination.
Additionally, he related that Wismar and Amelia’s Ward in Region 10 (Upper Demerara- Berbice) have also seen an increase in the number of cases there.