Fewer Russian COVID vaccines being given now as demand for other vaccines increases


The Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine was once the backbone of Guyana’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign but now, the local health authorities are administering fewer amounts of this vaccine with the demand for other vaccines increasing.

With its approval from the World Health Organization (WHO) still pending, Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony says that the local authorities have “eased off” with the administration of the Sputnik V vaccine.

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony.

At the sidelines of an event on Monday, Dr. Anthony highlighted that many more people are seeking the US-made Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines instead of the Sputnik V vaccines.

“Basically, we have the second dose of Sputnik right now so we are keeping it for those persons who need the second dose because again, the first dose of Sputnik differs from the second dose Sputnik and you need two for it to work.”

He could not state how many remaining first and second doses of the Sputnik V vaccine Guyana still has in storage. And he could not state how many of the people are eligible for the second Sputnik V dose.

Since February 2021, Guyana has been able to vaccinate 84.2 per cent of the adult population with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

While speaking at the opening of a vaccination workshop on Monday, however, Dr. Anthony said that more than 80,000 adults are yet to be vaccinated.

Beyond that, thousands of people who received their first dose are yet to return for their second shot and their booster shots.

Late last year, two challenges for Guyanese vaccinated with the Sputnik V vaccine emerged. The first was that there was a delay in the supply of the unique second dose vaccines while the second challenge was that countries started instituting restrictions and would not accept international travellers with vaccines that were not yet approved by the WHO.

A concern has been that people may be getting different sets of vaccines altogether to bypass challenges of vaccine acceptance because of the Sputnik V’s pending approval status.

Dr. Anthony, however, noted that this challenge is one that the local health authorities cannot readily target.

“It’s hard to say but what we have been trying to do is make sure people come and get their first, second and booster doses,” Dr. Anthony told reporters.

He, however, emphasised that Guyana has not permitted revaccination- which is the process of getting a full set of vaccines even though you are already fully vaccinated.

What the local health authorities have done, Dr. Anthony said, is allow people to get the J&J vaccine as a booster shot to bypass travel woes.

He also noted that the government has not yet made any decision on administering a fourth vaccination dose. Currently, the local authorities are advocating for people to get their first and second doses and become fully vaccinated, and get their booster shots afterwards.

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