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Sputnik V could address the issue of rising COVID-19 cases in Philippines, says experts

Sputnik V could address the issue of rising COVID-19 cases in Philippines, says experts

25 million Filipinos are put under lockdown for another week as movement in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, also known as Greater Manila area, is now limited further. According to the Department of Health, the country has been recording more than 10,000 new cases everyday, bringing the nation’s total no. of cases to about 795,000. There are now over 136,000 active cases, and over 13,000 have died.

The Philippines has the second worst COVID-19 outbreak in South-east Asia, after Indonesia. But its number of infections has been nearly double Indonesia’s since the start of March.

The government is hoping to bring down daily infection by at least 25 per cent with the hard lockdown. The current spike in infections is worse than what the country experienced last year.

Philippines, being one of the most populated nations in South East Asia, was among the first to show interest in the Sputnik V vaccine after it was registered in Russia. The vaccine was recently granted an emergency use authorization in the Philippines after a thorough review of the data and will become one of the key tools to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country. Diversification of the national vaccine portfolio through registration of Sputnik V provides people of the Philippines with access to one of the best vaccines, which is already saving lives around the world.

“Based on the experts’ opinions Sputnik V not only has a high efficacy rate, but it also performs better in the older age group, 60 years and above. With the approval of Sputnik V’s emergency use authorization, I am hoping that plans to set up a manufacturing hub in the country for the vaccine pushes through so that all Filipinos can have access to the vaccine. This will certainly help us recover and move forward as a nation,” says Rep. Florida P. Robes, San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan.

The objective of a vaccination is to prevent a disease by working with the immune response of the body. When a person is vaccinated and thereafter exposed to the virus, the immune system identifies the antigen and stops the person from getting the infection infected. So, it is important to understand what goes in the making of the vaccine.

Proven Platform: Post the outbreak of the pandemic, researchers at Gamaleya institute extracted a fragment of genetic material from novel corona virus SARS-COV-2, which codes information about the spike S protein structure (outer shell of the virus, but not the entire virus), responsible for connection with the human cells. Further they inserted it into a familiar adenovirus vector for delivery into a human cell and what came out in the process was the world’s first registered vaccine based on a well-studied human adenoviral vector-based platform, Sputnik V.

So, what is vector?

Vectors are vehicles. Adenoviral vector is used as carrier of SARS COV -2 glycoprotein S genome. Because genome is base against which antibodies will develop. It will require a vehicle or carrier for this genome into the cells. Therefore, the vaccine is using adenoviral vectors which are simple flu viruses that are genetically modified so they are not able to reproduce in a human body. There is different type of adenoviral vectors. There are human adenoviral vector and adenoviral vectors of the other species.

“The Sputnik V vaccine uses human adenoviral vectors, with two different adenoviral vector components (rAd26 and rAd5). The same adenoviral platform was used to produce the vaccine against Ebola six years ago. More than 250 clinical trials and 75 scientific publications have confirmed the safety of the vaccines which are based on human adenoviral vectors. Sputnik V is based on this platform and chimpanzee adenovirus-based ones used by AstraZeneca and mNRA-based ones from Pfizer and Moderna are mNRA adenovirus,” says Dr. Sanjiv Kumar, Chairperson of the Indian Academy of Public Health and Indian Alliance of Patients Group, Former Senior Advisor at UNICEF and Former Director at IIHMR.

Storage and transportation: Sputnik V Vaccine storage is easy which can be stored at +2+8 degree Celsius. As some vaccines such as Pfizer have been approved in some countries and awaiting approval in others storage and transportation is seen to be the challenge as it needs to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius.

Dosage: While aiming for best vaccine, scientists have reached the final stage of clinical trials. Safety, efficacy and dosage are critical aspects to be looked carefully. AstraZeneca vaccine found to be having 79 per cent full dose efficacy after Phase III preliminary results. Using same vector in both doses of vaccines most likely allows the immune system to launch defense mechanism unlike using dose two which makes it less efficient.

On the contrary, Sputnik V currently uses two different injections (human adenovirus types Ad5 and Ad26) and requires two doses of the vaccine to be three weeks apart with the outcome antibodies are developed against S-protein of the virus after rigorous administration. Then the immunity starts activating against this protein, that prevents the coronavirus to enter in the body cells and finally makes it immune to the infection. The proven efficacy of Sputnik V demonstrated by the Gamaleya Institute research team in the Lancet magazine stands at 91.6%, making it one of only three vaccines in the world with efficacy over 90%.

Affordable pricing: As Sputnik V is adenovirus vector-based vaccine, it can be considered comparatively safe. Not to mention the availability and affordability of the vaccine in the market. Sputnik V is a two-dose vaccine but considering the price of of less than $10 per dose for international markets (around 500 Philippine Peso), it generally opens the way for easy distribution worldwide, including hard-to-reach regions.

YouGov poll revealed that 54% of respondents from 9 countries consider Russia Most Trusted Vaccine Producer alongside the US and leaving the UK behind. The results of the YouGov survey in various parts of the world once again demonstrate the high confidence of respondents in Russia as a vaccine producer and in the Sputnik V vaccine. Sputnik V vaccine has been saving lives around the world as it is approved for use in 58 countries with total population of over 1.5 billion people.

Sputnik V vaccine advantages in a nutshell –

Text Box: •	Efficacy of Sputnik V agianstCOVID19 was reported at 91.6% as confirmed by the data published in the Lancet
•	Sputnik V provides full protection against severe cases of COVID-19
•	The level of virus neutralizing antibodies of volunteers vaccinated with Sputnik V is 1.3-1.5 times higher than the level of antibodies of patients who recovered from COVID-19 
•	One of the most affordable vaccines in the world with a price of less than $10 per shot 
•	Sputnik V uses two different vectors - based on human adenovirus serotypes Ad5 and Ad26 - in two separate shots, allowing for a more effective defense against the coronavirus than vaccines using the same vector for both shots
•	The temperature regime for Sputnik V is +2+8 C, so it can be stored in a conventional fridge.

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