Russia recently approved a single-dose variant of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine called the 'Sputnik Light', following an efficacy rate of nearly 79.4%.
According to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), this vaccine is being produced by Moscow's Gamaleya Research Institute.
The most exciting part is that this vaccine would cost less than 10$ per dose. It is affordable than two doses of the Sputnik V vaccine (two-shot Sputnik V gives 91.6% efficacy).
RDIF announced that late-stage Phase III trials involving 7,000 citizens were currently underway in Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Ghana, and other countries. The interim reports are supposed to come out later this month.
The single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine was shown to be effective for all subjects in Phase I and Phase II studies, with no significant adverse effects recorded.
According to the RDIF, one shot of Sputnik Light significantly decreases the risk of severe cases leading to hospitalisation.
The Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) of Bangladesh has authorised the Russian Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use against Covid-19, implying that clearance for China's Sinopharm shot will come shortly as Indian supply line fails.
The government will buy vaccine technologies from Russia and China using the direct procurement system (DPM), ensuring that the health ministry will not have to go through an arduous bidding process.
Russia's Sputnik V will be manufactured in Bangladesh using the equipment and logistics of various private pharmaceutical firms.
According to the RDIF CEO, Sputnik Light will be produced in exactly the same countries where Sputnik V will be produced – India, Korea, and China.
As Bangladesh is going to manufacture Sputnik V vaccine as soon as possible, it is also necessary to ensure the production of Sputnik Light vaccine. We are hoping for a reasonable price for this newer version.
Sputnik V is supposed to cost $10 per shot (two shots recommended); but, Russian officials claim that a single Sputnik Light vaccine shot would cost less than $10 worldwide. Also, it can be stored at temperatures ranging from two to eight degrees centigrade.
So far, around 9 million doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered in Bangladesh. Assuming that every individual requires two doses, that is sufficient to have vaccinated about 2.8% of the country's population.
According to latest data, Bangladesh administered approximately 87,775 doses per day. At this rate, it would take another 372 days to administer enough doses to cover another 10% of the population.
This data indicates the number of coronavirus vaccine doses administered, not the number of people who have been fully vaccinated because that requires two doses.
On one hand, it would be difficult to vaccinate most of the Bangladeshi people within a short duration.
On the other hand, we have not yet received enough vaccines from India due to a vaccine supply shortfall.
Ensuring two doses of vaccine for each individual would be a significant challenge for Bangladesh.
That is why the one-shot Sputnik Light vaccine could be a better solution for Bangladesh because a single-dose regimen may overcome the problem of immunising a significant portion of the population within a shorter time period, which is particularly necessary during a pandemic.
Sputnik Light may contribute to reducing the transmission of coronavirus by immunising larger populations more quickly and supporting higher immunity levels among those who have already been infected.
Nevertheless, we may also keep the Sputnik V as the primary source of vaccination along with the Sputnik Light vaccine.
In a 'real-world' assessment based on data from 3.8 million people, Russian scientists reported last month that Sputnik V was 97.6% effective against coronavirus if two shots are administered.
We can go for a small clinical trial in Covid-19 dedicated hospitals with the Sputnik Light vaccine to determine its immunogenicity, antibody titer, and effectiveness. After that, we can decide to use it.
As RDIF said, this vaccine has proven to be effective against all new coronavirus strains so we should look forward to procuring and administering it as soon as practicable.
It can expedite the mass inoculation programme and thus save many lives.
However in reality, a vaccine may not immediately solve the coronavirus problem in Bangladesh.
Other safety precautions, such as wearing a mask and keeping a social distance, should also be maintained at all times.
The author is an MBBS (final year) student.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.