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By: Justicia Shipena

The health ministry has announced the suspension of the Russian made Sputnik V vaccine until it receives the World Health Organization (WHO) emergency use listing.

The suspension follows findings by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority that it increased the risk of HIV transmission.

“The reason for discontinuing the administration of the vaccine is being done in the abundance of caution that men [who] received Sputnik V may be at higher risk of contracting HIV when exposed to it,” said health executive director Ben Nangombe.

Nangombe said that those who received the first dose would be offered their second dose to complete the vaccination.

Namibia had received 15 000 doses of component one and 15 000 doses of component two from Serbia.

Thus far, 110 people have received component one, and only seven have received component two.

The ministry said it would continue to engage with the Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and WHO on further scientific developments.

Earlier this month, WHO put the Emergency Use Listing process for Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine on hold due to pending data and legal procedures.

Earlier this week, the ministry said it did not conduct a study for the vaccine regarding HIV risks.

Nangombe also said no incidences regarding Sputnik had been reported.

The health ED stated that the ministry decided to discontinue its rollout of the Sputnik V vaccine after becoming aware of SAHPRA’s decision to not approve the jab in South Africa on 18 October 2021.

According to media reports, some studies have suggested that the administration of vaccines using the Adenovirus Type 5 (Ad5) vector, which Sputnik V does, can lead to higher susceptibility to HIV in men.

The Sputnik V uses modified viruses as vehicles, or vectors, to carry genetic information that helps the body build immunity against future infections. Sputnik V vaccine is considered for authorisation by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency.

The vaccine has been given the green light in more than 70 countries, and thus far, no safety has concerns have been identified.

According to the Gamaleya Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology, the Russian Direct Investment Fund says that concerns about the safety of Ad5 vectored vaccines in populations at risk for HIV infection are unfounded.

Russia said there is no evidence of an increased risk of HIV infection among humans after a common cold.

Ghana cancelled its Sputnik V contract while other African countries such as Kenya and South Africa blocked the use of the vaccine

Justicia Shipena

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