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In July 2021, a Reuters article quoted the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) as stating that the gap between the first and second dose of the Sputnik vaccine can be increased to 180 days.
Initially, the research had indicated 21 days between doses. But with mounting manufacturing delays, the RDIF advised that the gap period can be 90 days. These statements made by the RDIF need to be supported by transparent research by independent health authorities. People lives are on the line. An infographic released by Dr. Mahendra Carpen has been making the rounds on social media recently. The data is useful in indicating that the vast majority of ICU hospitalisations and deaths are of persons who were unvaccinated. Of important note (according to this data), between July and August there has been a significant increase of partially vaccinated persons admitted to the ICU and a related increase in deaths. In August 2021, 16% of the ICU deaths were among the partially vaccinated. It would be valuable to release the data to indicate how many of these partially vaccinated persons were waiting/overdue for their second dose of the Sputnik vaccine. And for persons who received another vaccine and did not show up for their second doses, the release of the information may motivate them to get fully vaccinated. Whatever the vaccine status of the 16%, it may be indicative that over time first doses offers less and less protections, or there is a variant that defeats the effectiveness of a single dose, or likely, a combination of these factors, among others.
Some of us were lucky to be among the first batch of persons that lined up to get the Sputnik vaccine and had no problems getting the second dose. But we have seen first-hand the frustration of friends and family as they hunt the elusive second dose. The Government of Guyana owes it to the public, particularly those persons that were so proactive in protecting themselves, to fully disclose the reasons behind the delays in the Sputnik second doses, and to develop a clear contingent plan in the face of continued delays. Argentina made the decision to offer its citizens another vaccine to follow up on the first Sputnik vaccine. Is Guyana in a position to take such decisive action? We encourage the Government of Guyana to tap into the local and international data, and the expertise of global health officials, and create a plan to ensure Guyanese receive the best protection against COVID-19.
The trend is to treat COVID deaths as an individual failure, but who is to be blamed when a person who cannot access their second dose, ends up in the ICU and dies?
Finally, we encourage persons still waiting to be vaccinated to visit their health centres and get vaccinated. We have a lot more options than we did a few months ago. Sputnik is not the only vaccine. The science remains strong that vaccines work in reducing your risk of infection, hospitalisation and death.
Salima A. Bacchus-Hinds
Francis M. Bailey