A third coronavirus vaccine has been approved for use in India amid a deadly second wave of infections.
Russia’s Sputnik V is safe. It works in a way similar to the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab as made in India i.e Covishield.
Sputnik V gives around 92% protection against Covid-19, late stage trial results published in The Lancet reveal.
India has so far given more than 100 million doses of two approved vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin.
Sputnik V’s approval came on a day when India overtook Brazil to become the country with the second-highest number of cases globally.
With the total case tally of more than 13.5 million cases, India is now only behind the United States which has reported more than 31 million cases. With 13.4 million cases, Brazil is now at number three.
The government aims to vaccinate 250 million “priority people” by the end of July. But experts say that the pace of vaccination is slow. Unless the drive is scaled up, the target could be missed.
About Sputnik V:
The vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute. Initially it generated some controversy before the release of final trial data.
It uses a cold-type virus, which is harmless, as a carrier to deliver a small fragment of the coronavirus to the body.
Safely exposing the body to a part of the virus’s genetic code in this way allows it to recognize the threat and learn to fight it off, without the risk of becoming ill.
The body starts to produce antibodies especially tailored to the coronavirus after vaccination.
This means, the immune system primes to fight coronavirus when it encounters it for real.
It can be stored at temperatures of between 2 and 8C degrees (a standard fridge is roughly 3-5C degrees) making it easier to transport and store.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is marketing the vaccine, has signed deals to produce more than 750 million doses of Sputnik V in India with six domestic vaccine makers, according to reports.
But it has a different second dose:
Unlike other similar vaccines, the Sputnik jab uses two slightly different versions of the vaccine for the first and the second dose – given 21 days apart.
They both target the coronavirus’s distinctive “spike”, but use different vectors – the neutralized virus that carries the spike to the body.
The idea is that using two different formulas boosts the immune system even more than using the same version twice.
As well as proving effective, it also safe with no serious reactions linked to the vaccine during the trial.
Some side-effects to a vaccine are there. But these are usually mild, including a sore arm, tiredness and a bit of a temperature. There were no deaths or serious illnesses in the vaccinated group.
As well as Russia, other countries also using Sputnik V including Argentina, Palestinian territories, Venezuela, Hungary, UAE and Iran.
It will be weeks before Sputnik will be rolled out in India and until then, the country has to make do with Covaxin and Covishield.