Factsheet: Russia’s Sputnik Covid-19 vaccine

The Claim: In February, Russia pledged to donate its Sputnik Covid-19 to Zimbabwe as part of measures to help the country fight the pandemic.
The Verdict: claim verdict

In February, Russia pledged to donate its Sputnik Covid-19 to Zimbabwe as part of measures to help the country fight the pandemic.

The country is currently using two Chinese vaccines – Sinopharm and Sinovac – in the ongoing inoculation programme in which over half a million citizens have received their first jabs.

Zimbabwe in March, authorised the emergency use of Russia’s Sputnik V.

Below we give some facts about Sputnik:

What is Sputnik?

·         Developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, the vaccine initially generated some controversy after being rolled out before the final trial data had been released.

·         However scientists say its benefits have now been demonstrated.

·         Sputnik is however yet to be listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for emergency use.        

How does Sputnik work?

·         The Russian Sputnik vaccine works in a similar way to the UK’s Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and the Belgium-developed Janssen vaccine.

·         The vaccine uses a cold-type virus, engineered to be harmless, as a carrier to deliver a small fragment of the coronavirus to the body.

·         Safely exposing the body to part of the virus’s genetic code in this way allows it to recognise the threat and learn to fight it off, without risking becoming ill.

·         The human body, after being vaccinated, starts to produce antibodies specially tailored to the coronavirus.

·         This means the immune system is primed to fight coronavirus when it encounters it for real.

·         The vaccine 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 uniqueness of Sputnik’s jabs

·         Unlike other similar vaccines, the Sputnik jab uses two slightly different versions of the vaccine for the first and second dose, which are given 21 days apart.

·         Both jabs target the coronavirus’s distinctive “spike”, but use different vectors – the neutralised virus that carries the spike to the body.

·         Using two different formulas boosts the immune system even more than using the same version twice and may give longer-lasting protection.

·         The vaccine is proving effective and safe with no serious reactions linked to it during the trial.

Efficacy and safety of Sputnik

·         Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine gives around 92% protection against Covid-19

·         The vaccine has also been deemed to be safe – and offer complete protection against hospitalisation and death.

·         The Sputnik vaccine was initially met with some controversy after being rolled out before the final trial data had been released.

·         However scientists have said its benefits have now been demonstrated.

·         The vaccine joins the ranks of proven vaccines alongside Pfizer, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Moderna, Janssen and others.

Apart from Russia, Sputnik vaccine is also used in the following countries:

·         Argentina

·         Palestinian territories

·         Venezuela

·         Hungary

·         UAE

·         Iran

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