WHO says it does not yet know when it will approve Sputnik V against COVID-19

The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said today that the approval of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V is a technical decision of the group of specialists that studies it and that cannot be advanced when it will be adopted.

 "It is a group that works independently and that will report its conclusions once its work is completed," Ghebreyesus said by videoconference at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg when answering a question about whether the approval of the Russian vaccine by the WHO it is a matter of "weeks and months."

 In his speech, he stressed that the appearance of anticovid vaccines "has shown the light at the end of the tunnel", but stressed the need for them to reach all countries in the world. The WHO, he added, has set as a goal that 10% of the population of each country will be vaccinated by next September and 30% by the end of the year.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He today he pointed out that he still does not know when his body will approve the Sputnik V vaccine (Reuters)

 "No one is safe until we are all," Ghebreyesus stressed, insisting on the need for joint efforts to fight the pandemic. Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko indicated that vaccinating 30-40% of the population does not provide herd immunity. He added that some specialists consider that this immunity can be achieved only with the vaccination of 80-90%, although he specified that this is not the official position of his portfolio.

 At the end of March, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that 70% of Russians could be vaccinated in September this year. However, the vaccination campaign in Russia is progressing slowly due to the reluctance of its inhabitants. According to Murashko, almost 15 million Russians have been vaccinated with the full regimen to date.

 In another panel of the Forum dedicated to the pandemic, the director of the WHO Emergency Program, Michael Ryan, warned in a telematic intervention that, despite the decrease in covid-19 cases, the situation “remains complex and the risks , very tall".

 “The pandemic continues to be a serious catastrophe. All countries need to take important action. No one can relax and we must be prepared for a future pandemic. If we don't prepare we will have to pay a high price, ”he warned. Ryan indicated that in the last five weeks in some regions of the world, such as Asia and Central America, a significant increase in infections has been observed.

A medical worker holds a box of Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 at a mobile vaccination center in a community near the town of Poyarkovo in the Moscow region (Reuters)

 He also highlighted the risks of unequal distribution of vaccines between states, as well as social inequality in the provision of health services within the same country, which, in his opinion, may be due to poor management.

 Waiting for Russia

 For its part, Russia expects the WHO to approve the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine within two months, said Kirill Dmitriev, director of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which markets the dose, to Reuters.

 According to him, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is also reviewing Sputnik V, "received all the basic information available and there are no critical observations at the moment at all."

 Dmitriev did not say when the EMA would make a decision for him and redirected questions to the agency, noting that the WHO also had no significant critical observations either, based on a couple of inspections. Dmitriev declined to specify which production sites were visited during the review. "We see that the inspectors are maintaining a professional attitude ... there are no significant critical observations, at least for the moment," he noted.

 "If we weren't absolutely sure of the transparency of the process, we wouldn't have invited anyone," he added.


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