Photo: marca.com

 

By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS 

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) — who is currently working from his private residence inside the National Palace after he tested positive for the covid-19 virus over the weekend — said in a tweet Monday, Jan. 25, that he had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin via a telephone call earlier in the day and that the Russian leader had agreed to send Mexico 24 million doses of the yet-unproven Sputnik 5 covid-19 vaccine.

As a result of a conversation that Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard later described as “cordial and successful,” Mexico will soon begin receiving the Russian vaccine, the delivery of which will be spread out over a two-month period.

Notwithstanding, as of Monday, the Russian Sputnik 5 had not received approval from Mexico’s pharmaceutical watchdog body, the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris), which has so far only authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca.

According to the WHO’s covid-19 vaccine tracker, the Sputnik vaccine has only been tested in Phase 2 studies, while Western alternatives must meet Phase 3 testing in order to be approved for medical use.

In August of last year, Russia shocked the world with news that it had approved a locally developed inoculation and had begun the rollout of the vaccine for its own population.

Two months later, Russia announced it had approved a second experimental vaccine, Sputnik 5, named after the Russian satellite that beat the U.S. into orbit during the space race.

However, according to global health authorities — including the World Health Organization (WHO) — approval of both the Kremlin vaccines was based on skimpy data, and many experts characterized the move as a risky political stunt.

In fact, according to the WHO’s covid-19 vaccine tracker, the Sputnik vaccine has only been tested in Phase 2 studies, while Western alternatives must meet Phase 3 testing in order to be approved for medical use.

Moreover, former U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb noted that scientists in Russia only tested the Sputnik vaccine for two months, and their results have not been published and, therefore, have not been peer-reviewed.

Like the Chinese CanSino vaccine — which AMLO is also planning to distribute to Mexicans through his dubious National Vaccination Plan — the Sputnik inoculation was developed in secrecy and has not been vetted or proven to be safe and effective in accordance with international scientific practices.

In the case of an FDA approval, a vaccine must be carefully reviewed by hundreds of scientists before it gets the green light for public distribution.

In the case of an FDA approval, a vaccine must be carefully reviewed by hundreds of scientists before it gets the green light for public distribution.

Developed by the state-backed Gamalaya Research Institute, the Sputnik vaccine — which Putin has claimed both he and his daughter have taken and which began to be administered on a large scale in Russia in late December — is also being poorly received by the Russian people.

According to a report by Agence Frence-Presse (AFP), 59 percent of Russians have said that they will not take the Sputnik 5 vaccine, including health, education and social workers.

Russian physicians also do not trust Sputnik V, with more than 50 percent saying they have no plans to vaccinate against the coronavirus, according to a Russian Federation Medics Network poll published by VTimes.

Worse yet, the AFP report said, only 27 percent of Russians trust the official data on the coronavirus, according to a survey conducted in late October by the Moscow-based Levada Center.

Russian efforts to promote the Sputnik V as effective as or more effective than Western alternatives — without providing accurate, verified data — have shaken serious international medical confidence in the vaccine.

Just days after Pfizer and BioNTech announced their vaccine had greater than 90 percent efficacy,. Moscow issued a statement saying the the Sputnik vaccine was 92 percent effective.

And less than a week later, after the U.S. biotechnology lab Moderna, which developed its covid-19 vaccine in cooperation with the U.S. National Institutes for Health, said that early results showed its candidate was 94.5 percent effective, Russian suddenly upped the Sputnik’s efficiency level to 95 percent.

Notwithstanding, Mexico will be receiving 24 million doses of the unproven Sputnik vaccine to give to be administered to its most vulnerable populations over the course of the next two months.

…Jan. 26, 2021

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