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Govt undecided about import of 20m Russian vaccine doses

Govt undecided about import of 20m Russian vaccine doses

author avatar
29 Jun 2021 - 09:25
Govt undecided about import of 20m Russian vaccine doses
author avatar
29 Jun 2021 - 09:25

KABUL (Pajhwok): Documents obtained by Pajhwok Afghan News show that a trader wants to transfer 20 million doses of Russian vaccine to Afghanistan free of cost but the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) does not accept the request as the vaccine is not approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Health experts praising the trader say that it would be impossible to control coronavirus without administration of vaccine.

The experts say the Russian Sputnik V vaccine has not been approved by WHO but some countries have used it and found it more effective than the Indian and Chinese versions.

According to  documents obtained by Pajhwok, Fazal Rahim Sardar, head of International Oil Company, in a letter to the High Advisory Board of Presidential Palace wrote, “International Oil Company wants to transfer 20 million doses of Sputnik V vaccine to the Afghan government free of cost.”

“We request the respected office to send its application in a letter so the company would provide required resources,” the letter said.

The letter is referred by the board to MoPH which then referred it to the Department of Emergency Situations and Covid-19. The letter after passing through some other sections in the ministry, finally reached Science, Epidemiology and Research Committee (SERC) of the ministry.

In a letter from National Immunization Agency to SERC states that the request of Fazal Rahim Sardar, head of International Oil Company, has been referred to the Department of Emergency Situations and Covid-19 for further steps.

National Immunization Agency said that import of 20 million doses of Sputnik V vaccine free of cost was a great chance for fighting the coronavirus.

Despite the fact that this vaccine has not been approved by WHO, but many countries including India which has strict rules, have used it, the letter added.

The National Immunization Agency also said, “The subject is referred to you so you provide scientific and technical views via SERC for permitting the use of the vaccine, please assure this office to take a decision on the regard.”

Also in a report of SERC, a copy of which is obtained by Pajhwok, it is stated that SERC only analyzed scientific dimensions of Sputnik V vaccine.

The approval process of Sputnik V vaccine by WHO and by European Medicines Agency and the third phase of development and production process of the vaccine had been completed and published in a well-known journal ‘Lancet’, the report said.

The report says that the vaccine with 79 percent of immunity was a good and economic solution to populated societies.

This vaccine has so far administered in South Korea, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, India, Iran, Angola, Magnolia, the Maldives, Kuwait, Qatar and some other countries and around 65 countries in the world have registered it while 50 countries had requested the vaccine, the source added, saying that no side effects had been reported from the implementation of Sputnik V vaccine.

“Considering its high benefit, SERC does not reject the Sputnik V vaccine,” the report said. It said that MoPH would take decision about the vaccine in accordance with medical laws and rules in Afghanistan before it was reviewed by National Immunization Agency.

The report stated that Afghanistan embassy in Russia should also be kept in contact for better coordination. However, MoPH is yet to take any decisions whether the vaccine should be imported to Afghanistan or not.

Meanwhile, a credible source in MoPH confirmed to Pajhwok that no final decision had so far been made about the vaccine import.

The source said that based on Afghanistan Medicines Regulatory Authority (AMRA) law, Afghanistan can use medicines and vaccines approved by WHO as the country had no capabilities to analyze medicines.

Sputnik V vaccine has not been approved by WHO so far, but a number of countries have used it, the source added.

“…It is questionable how a trader is ready to import 20 million doses of the vaccine without any charges, we fear about the side effects of the vaccine, God forbid it would create health problems for our people in the future,” the source added.

However, health experts criticized the MoPH’s position on the regard and said that Sputnik V vaccine was 92 percent efficient.

Dr. WahdatAlkozai, head of Shiekh Zayed Hospital in Kabul, told Pajhwok that Sputnik V vaccine was developed in Russia a year ago and 60 countries had used it.

According to reports, Sputnik V vaccine is 92 percent effective compared to 95 percent of Pfizer and 94 percent of Moderna vaccine, he said.

He said that Sputnik V vaccine was more effective than Indian and Chinese versions and it would be better if imported to the country and administered as there was no other alternatives to treat Covid-19.

Alkozai said that the world was in critical situation and there was a high need of the vaccine.  About non-approval of the vaccine by WHO, he said that the reason may be political rivalries between some countries.

Meanwhile, Dr. HashmatullahFaizi, a doctor who works in the ICU section of Afghan-Japan Hospital in Kabul, said that Sputnik V vaccine had not been approved by WHO and that was the reason it was not sold in the world.

“If people have no access to other vaccines, then yes it is good if Russian made vaccine is imported and administered to people,” he said.

About the efficiency of Covid-19 vaccine, he said that people should be first informed about the effectiveness of vaccine before it is implemented.

He stressed on public awareness of people about vaccination and said that some people still did not believe in the medicine and the reason was that they had low awareness about it.

Some media reports quoting Lancet magazine indicate that Sputnik V vaccine is up to 92 percent effective in treatment of coronavirus.

The magazine ruled out speculations about the vaccine and said that the drug can resist against coronavirus by 91 percent.

Pajhwok tried to also take comments of MoPH and officials of International Oil Company on the regard, but failed despite several contact attempts.

According to MoPH, Afghanistan needs 42 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

The health ministry has so far received 500,000 doses of the vaccine from India, 468,000 from COVAX and 700,000 from China.

The US has also promised to provide up to three million doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine to Afghanistan. According to MoPH, over 115,000 people in Afghanistan have so far been infected with the virus and 4,730 died of the disease.


“This Investigative Report was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Pajhwok and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.”

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