INDIA: Amid the second wave of the spread of COVID-19 in India, a third COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in the South Asian country. Russia’s Sputnik V has been given a green signal as safe and works similar to the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab i.e. Covishield in India.
Last stage trial results published in The Lancet reveal that Sputnik V gives around 92% protection against COVID-19.
So far, India has given more than 100 million doses of two approved vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin. As India observes a high spike in COVID cases, 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 United States reporting more than 31 million cases, India is behind the States with a total case tally of more than 13.5 million cases. Brazil is at number three with 13.4 million cases.
The aim is to vaccinate 250 million “priority people” in India by the end of July this year. However, the pace of vaccination has been slow to achieve the goal, hence unless the drive is scaled up, the target could be missed.
About Sputnik V
The vaccine was developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute. After being rolled out before the final trial data had been released, Sputnik V had generated some controversy. But scientists say its benefits have now been demonstrated.
The Russian vaccine uses a cold-type virus, as a carrier to deliver a small fragment of the coronavirus to the body, engineered to be harmless. Thus safely exposing the body to a part of the virus’s genetic code allows it to recognize the threat and learn to fight it off, minus the risk of becoming ill. After being vaccinated, the body starts to produce antibodies especially tailored to the coronavirus, making the immune system strong enough to fight the coronavirus when encountered for real.
A different second dose
Sputnik V, unlike other similar vaccines, uses two slightly different versions of the vaccine for the first and the second dose – given 21 days apart. The idea is to boost the immune system even more by using two different versions, which may give longer-lasting protection.
Apart from mild side effects like a sore arm, tiredness, and a bit of a temperature, the vaccine is proven effective without any serious reactions. Sputnik V is being used in a number of other countries other than Russia, including Argentina, Palestinian territories, UAE, Hungary, Iran, and Venezuela.
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.