Tuesday, May 17

Russian vaccination campaign stalls as WHO stalls approval of Sputnik V | Society

An outbreak of coronavirus in the surroundings of Vladimir Putin, who is in quarantine, a famous Russian television presenter hospitalized and the approval of the Sputnik V vaccine by the World Health Organization (WHO) that does not come after many months of waiting. These are the latest setbacks for the Russian vaccination campaign, stalled at a third of the population as the country goes through a long third wave and 95% of detected cases are of the more contagious delta variant.

“They are not one or two, but dozens of people [infectadas]”The Russian president admitted this Thursday during his speech by videoconference at the summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), held in Tajikistan and to which he should have gone. This week, after detecting covid-19 in his environment, the president, who has tested negative for coronavirus in the tests and who was vaccinated against the coronavirus with the Sputnik V vaccine in secret half a year ago (period in which the authorities recommend receiving a third dose), I go into self-isolation. “We will see if Sputnik demonstrates in real life its protection parameters against covid-19,” he said as soon as the news was known.

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To the concern about the number of cases detected in the surroundings of the Kremlin, which until recently has been extremely careful with its contacts and with its agenda, is added the hospitalization of a well-known presenter on Russian state television. Dmitri Kiseliov, considered the voice of the Kremlin, sent a message of calm to the population. “Sputnik V works, I can already walk six kilometers through the hospital,” said the same presenter who in the last year has launched a smear campaign against Western alternatives and who came to classify the Oxford and AstraZeneca as “the vaccine of the monkey”.

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Russian authorities presume that Sputnik V was the first vaccine to receive national approval for emergency use. However, 13 months have passed and it still does not get the go-ahead from the WHO. At a press conference online From one of its regional branches, the Pan American Health Organization, its deputy director, Jarbas Barbosa, explained that the Sputnik V evaluation process remains paralyzed. WHO inspectors who visited Russia to verify Sputnik V – already approved by 70 countries, including several in Latin America – detected some problems in their sterilization protocol and risk of cross contamination in one of the production plants and are awaiting reports. that have been resolved. The manufacturer, one of the nine plants that makes Sputnik V in Russia, “did not adhere to the best production practices,” Barbosa said. “We keep waiting,” he lamented. The approval of the WHO or the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is, for example, a requirement to open Spain and other EU countries to Russian tourists vaccinated with this drug.

All these news represent a setback for the vaccination campaign, which is proceeding slowly despite the fact that universal inoculation began on December 5, 2020. According to data from the Ministry of Health, 46.1 million people, 31.6 % of its population have received at least one dose of the different Russian vaccines, since the rest of the alternatives, including the Chinese one, are not approved in the country. The immunization process did not pick up until June, when the arrival of new strains and the low rate of people protected against the coronavirus forced some administrations, such as Moscow, to introduce measures that contemplated mandatory vaccination of the service sector despite reluctance of the central government. According to Rosstat, the Russian statistics agency, some 365,000 people died of coronavirus from March 2020 to July this year. However, the actual figures could be higher given that the number of deaths has increased significantly. According to data collected by independent media such as The Moscow Times and MediaZona, declared foreign agents, the excess mortality since the beginning of the pandemic is around 600,000 fatalities.

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