GUYANA: COVID-19: Sputnik V Vaccine second doses delayed – Editorial


It has been more than a month since the Ministry of Health announced that second doses for Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines have not been available. Since then there has been the tired refrain from the ministry that the vaccines will arrive “soon”. This is not acceptable as the Guyana Government has paid an enormous amount of money for the delivery of the full dosage from Aurugulf Health Investment of the United Arab Emirates.

Among the COVID vaccines available globally, Sputnik V is unique in the sense that its first and second doses are dissimilar. The first dose uses a modified version of an adenovirus to convey the genes for the notorious spike protein of the COVID-19 virus. The second dose of Sputnik V uses a different adenovirus to sharpen immunity against COVID-19.     

There have been reports that the production of the second dose is taking much longer than the first, something which the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) which is financing the vaccine production has denied without providing a plausible explanation for the mismatch between the output of first and second doses.

According to an Associated Press (AP) report on May 11th, Mexico’s assistant health secretary, Hugo López-Gatell, said that the Russians had found that the first adenovirus grows much more quickly than the second.

Mr López-Gatell said that Russian scientists are now suggesting abandoning the idea of giving the two separate Sputnik V shots several weeks apart and instead giving a second booster shot six months later.

The RDIF  denied the Mexican reports, according to AP.

“The comments made by Mexican authorities regarding the production of the second dose of the Sputnik V vaccine are not true,” the Fund’s press office said in a statement. “The manufacturing of both components of Sputnik V is being upscaled in Russia and abroad to fully meet the rising demand for the vaccine internationally.”

Up to early May, Mexico had received only 1.9 million Sputnik V doses, out of a total of 24 million it had signed a contract for.

Last week, Argentina’s La Nacion daily reported that Buenos Aires was in “intense talks” with Russia on new deliveries because many first-dose recipients between late March and early April have had to wait up to 12 weeks for the second component.

Citing official data, it said that Argentina received 7.8 million first doses and only 1.5 million second doses of Sputnik V by mid-June.

In Guyana’s case, Aurugulf has supplied 205,536 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine. Out of this figure, based on recent information released by the RDIF, Guyana received 144,268 first doses but only 61,268 second doses. This would mean that by the time Guyana exhausted all of its first doses, 83,000 people would be awaiting second doses. While the Ministry had said that the Sputnik V doses would be administered one month apart, there are now potentially thousands of persons who received their first shot two months ago and counting and who are still awaiting their second shot so that they could eventually be considered to be fully immunised.

Given the patent vaccine hesitancy in Guyana, the Government and the Ministry of Health cannot allow this state of affairs to continue. There must be a clear statement from the government here that the elongation between the two doses has been approved by the manufacturer of the vaccine, the Gamaleya National Research Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology. Further, the government must give a definite date for the supply of the second doses by Aurugulf.

One presumes that when the Guyana Government ordered the vaccines from Aurugulf it initially purchased 100,000 doses of each of the two shots and not simply 200,000 jabs. In light of the supply difficulties from Aurugulf – established only last year –  the government may wish to reconsider plans for the purchase of 600,000 more Sputnik V shots unless there is an ironclad commitment for the supply of both doses. This probably explains why the government has since announced that it is procuring Sinopharm vaccines from China and Johnson and Johnson’s single-shot vaccine via the African Union platform.

Notwithstanding the grave shortcomings in the vaccine supply chain – evidenced last week by a further delay in the supply of the COVAX tranche – it is crucial that vaccination numbers rise towards the point that fatalities and transmission of the virus begin to decline. This requires judicious decisions and due diligence by the authorities here in the acquisition of vaccines. They can attest to this by ensuring that Aurugulf lives up to its commercial commitments.

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  • brandli62  On 06/29/2021 at 9:42 am

    This is all worrysome news. It’s known that the Russians have production issues with their covid-19 vaccine. Furthermore, Guyana cannot source directly from the Russian manufacturer. It has to buy via an intermediary, a company in the UAE, which profits by doubling the WHO-recommended purchase price.

    The better way to go is to buy directly from the manufacturers in general, such as J&J or AstraZeneca, or to rely on the COVAX program of WHO and UNICEF. I know that Germany and Switzerland’s excess vaccine doses are donated to the COVAX program. For Switzerland, these are 3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 07/01/2021 at 10:22 am

    Dear Community Members

    On July 1, BC will be in Step 3 of our Restart Plan. As of this week, nearly 80% of British Columbians have had at least their first dose of vaccine, and our declining case counts show that vaccines are working.

    We are able to move to Step 3 because of our collective efforts and sacrifices. Thank you for everything you’ve done this past year to stay safe.

    I encourage you to visit our Restart Plan and what Step 3 means for you and your family. Here are a few highlights:

    • Personal gatherings are back to normal, indoors and outdoors – including sleepovers
    • Restaurants, bars, and pubs are no longer limited to 6 people per table
    • Fitness classes can resume with normal capacity, indoors and outdoors.
    • Indoor and outdoor sports can have more spectators
    • British Columbia is welcoming travelers from across Canada


    While masks are no longer mandatory, individual businesses and organization may still choose to require masks in their spaces. Some people may still want to wear masks in many settings, and that’s OK.

    STEP 3 BRINGS US CLOSER TO NORMAL, BUT THE PANDEMIC IS NOT BEHIND US YET. If you haven’t been vaccinated, now is the time to do so.

    Remember to continue washing your hands, staying home when you’re feeling sick, and make sure to get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms. When socializing with friends and family, be mindful of everyone’s individual comfort level, and as always, be kind, be calm, and be safe.

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