Friday, December 1, 2023

An ‘affectionate’ Russian president promises 24 million doses of vaccine

After announcing Sunday that he had tested positive for Covid-19, President López Obrador said Monday that he had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin and thanked him for agreeing to supply 24 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

“We spoke with the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, and he was genuinely affectionate. I invited him to visit Mexico and thanked him for the decision to send us 24 million doses of the Sputnik V [Covid-19] vaccine over the coming months,” he said in a social media message.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Twitter that the call between the two leaders was friendly and successful.

“As a result, [Deputy Health Minister] Hugo López-Gatell will be able to move forward with the support of the Russian government to ensure the arrival of the Sputnik V vaccine shortly,” he wrote.

Ebrard said last Tuesday that 400,000 doses of the two-shot Sputnik vaccine would arrive in Mexico this week. It was unclear whether that remained the case.

The president during Monday morning's call with Putin.
The president during Monday morning’s call with Putin.

For its part, the Kremlin said in a statement that Putin and López Obrador “noted the constructive and mutually beneficial bilateral relations that are successfully developing in various areas.”

“The leaders discussed in detail the tasks of countering the spread of the coronavirus and ensuring epidemiological safety. They reviewed issues of organizing the distribution of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine in Mexico and training Mexican medical specialists in Russia,” the statement said.

“Vladimir Putin wished an early and complete recovery to the president …”

The Sputnik V vaccine, the first Covid-19 vaccine to be registered anywhere in the world, was created by the Gamaleya Research Institute, which is part of Russia’s Ministry of Health. It has an efficacy rate of 91.4%, according to a December announcement based on phase 3 trials with almost 23,000 participants.

“The vaccine demonstrated 100% efficacy against severe coronavirus cases. There were 20 severe cases of coronavirus infection among confirmed cases in the placebo group and no severe cases in the vaccine group,” the Russian government said.

“… No unexpected adverse events were identified as part of the research. Some of those vaccinated had short-term minor adverse events such as pain at the injection point and flu-like symptoms including fever, weakness, fatigue, and headache.”

Gamaleya Institute director Alexander Gintsburg said that the phase 3 trials “support our confidence in its high efficacy and complete safety for health.”

The vaccine has not yet been approved by Mexico’s health regulator, Cofepris, but López Obrador said last week that authorization is imminent.

Only the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca/Oxford University Covid-19 vaccines have so far been approved for use in Mexico but none of the latter has arrived. As of Sunday night, just under 630,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine had been administered to health workers but only 25,185 of such workers had received both required doses.

Ebrard said last week that millions of doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University, Sputnik V and CanSino Biologics vaccines, as well as further shipments of those made by Pfizer, would arrive in the coming weeks. The government expects to inoculate just over 14 million Mexicans by the end of March, he said.

According to Mexico’s five-stage vaccination plan, seniors are next in line to be vaccinated after health workers. López Obrador has pledged to vaccinate all Mexicans free of charge but said last week that state governments and private companies will also be permitted to buy and administer vaccines.

Source: Sin Embargo (sp) 

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