The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has suggested that the decision to reject Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine will not affect the country’s vaccination programme.
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) on Monday announced its decision to reject the vaccine in its current form.
This is after research showed that vaccinated men are at risk of contracting HIV.
Sahpra had been reviewing the data of the Russian vaccine since the initial application was submitted in February.
But SAMA chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee says the non-approval of the Sputnik V vaccine won’t make a huge difference to South Africa’s rollout.
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“We’ve got enough vaccines. We have more than enough. We are running the risk of having too much in store before the expiry date, so this is not going to make an influence, it’s not going to change anything,” Coetzee told Jacaranda FM.
Coetzee pointed out that the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in the Russian Federation, which submitted the application, would be allowed to send more data.
“Normally what Sahpra would do, they would encourage the institute to send in a rolling application, meaning as and when any new information is made available or comes to their attention, they need to submit it to Sahpra,” she added.
Sahpra also indicated on Monday that the rolling review of the Sputnik V vaccine would remain open for submission of relevant safety data in support of the application.
However, there has been concerns about the vaccine, which related primarily to its safety.
Sputnik uses an adenovirus vector – in this case a modified version of the common cold-causing adenovirus to carry genes for the spike protein in the coronavirus as a way to prime the body if it encounters Covid-19.
The Sputnik V vaccine has also not received Emergency Use Listing by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The most recent WHO update indicates that the process is “on hold, awaiting completion of rolling submission”.
South Africa’s vaccine rollout last week passed the 20 million mark.
As of Wednesday, 20,580,832 Covid-19 vaccine doses had been administered with the target of inoculating 70% of all South Africans by December this year.
All children 12-17 years and older are eligible to receive one dose of Pfizer vaccine.
Government has also started rolling out its Covid-19 vaccine certificate system.
If fully vaccinated, citizens are eligible to receive a digital vaccine certificate containing a QR code. The code can be either downloaded or printed.
Additional reporting by Narissa Subramoney