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Ishani Bose

All About COVID Vaccine Sputnik V

9 September 2021

What is Sputnik?

Sputnik, made by researchers at the Gamaleya National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Russia, was the first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for use in any nation. The vaccine was authorized for use on 11 August 2020, by the Russian Ministry, and since then it has been approved in over 67 countries across the world, although it is yet to receive approval from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Medicines Agency (EMA).


Timeline of Approval and Distribution

India approved the use of the Sputnik vaccine early in April 2021, even as the country battled a ‘second wave’. In May 2021, UNICEF announced a long-term supply agreement for the Sputnik vaccine.

As of July 2021, India has administered more than 195,000 doses at hospitals across the country, as part of the Sputnik V pilot program. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories said that a full-fledged commercial launch will have to be put on hold until the Russian producer provides equal quantities of the second dose, which has to be taken at least 21 days after the first dose. By August 2021, more than 18 million Sputnik vaccine doses are expected to be made available in India.



How Does Sputnik Work?

Sputnik is a ‘Two-vector Vaccine against Coronavirus’.

A viral vector is a virus that causes no harm. It is important to note that in a viral vector, the gene responsible for its multiplication has been removed. Hence, these vectors cannot cause any infection and are not a hazard to the body.

Then, what are viral vectors used for? They are used to deliver a gene to our body cells. Our body cells make a protein from the gene. In this case, the protein is part of the spike protein of Sars-COV2.

Again, we must be aware that this protein itself does not cause any coronavirus infection. It just stimulates an immune response in the body, developing antibodies specific to the spike protein.

Repeated vaccination takes place after 21 days. This time, a different viral vector, previously unknown to the body, is used in the same way. This boosts the immune response and thus provides long-lasting immunity.

In case, there is a future infection by Sars-COV2, a vaccinated person’s body will recognize the trademark spike protein on the virus. Since the cells already have a memory, they will rapidly produce antibodies that bind to the virus and prevent the virus from entering the body cells.



Side Effects

The common side effects of the Sputnik vaccine are similar to those of the other COVID-19 vaccines. Some of them are as follows:

· Fever

· Headache

· Fatigue

· Joint pain

· Muscle ache

· Chills

· Nausea and vomiting

· Injection-site reactions



Efficacy of the vaccine?

The results of a randomized phase III trial in Russia, represent a vaccine efficacy of 91.6%. The vaccine group showed no cases of moderate to severe disease. It was also found that even one dose was 73.6% effective against moderate to severe disease, leading to Russia’s approval of the one-dose Sputnik Light. According to a press release from the Gamaleya National Research Center and the RIDF (Russian Direct Investment Fund), data from 3.8 million completely vaccinated Russians suggest an efficacy of 97.6%.


Ongoing Research

According to the COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker website, as of July 2021, Sputnik has gained approval in 70 counties, including Argentina, Brazil, Bangladesh, Nepal, and India. 4 Phase I trials, 9 Phase II trials, and 6 Phase III trials are ongoing in countries around the world.

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