Namibia suspends use of Russian COVID vaccine after S.Africa flags HIV concerns

WINDHOEK (Reuters) - Namibia will suspend Russia's Sputnik-V-COVID-19 vaccine, its health ministry said Saturday, days after the drug agency in neighboring South Africa raised concerns about its safety for people at risk of HIV.
Regulatory agency SAHPRA has decided not to approve an emergency use application for Sputnik V for the time being, as some studies have suggested that administering vaccines containing the adenovirus type 5 vector - which Sputnik V does - may make men more susceptible to HIV .
South Africa and Namibia have high HIV prevalence rates.
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The Namibian Ministry of Health said in a statement that the decision to stop using the Russian vaccine was made “out of caution that men (who) received Sputnik V may be at a higher risk of contracting HIV “, Adding that it took into account SAHPRA's decision.
The Gamaleya Research Institute, which developed Sputnik V, said Namibia's decision was not based on scientific evidence or research.
"Sputnik V continues to be one of the safest and most efficient vaccines against COVID-19 in use worldwide," the institute told Reuters, adding that over 250 clinical studies and 75 international publications assess the safety of vaccines and drugs on the market Confirmed based on human adenovirus vectors.
Namibia said the suspension would take effect immediately and will last until Sputnik V receives an emergency list from the World Health Organization. But it does offer people who received a first dose of Sputnik V a second to complete their vaccination course.
Namibia received 30,000 doses of Sputnik V as a donation from the Serbian government, but only 115 had been administered as of October 20.
Namibia has also used COVID-19 vaccines, developed by China's Sinopharm, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson, which were acquired through a mix of sourcing deals and donations.
To date, it has only fully vaccinated about 240,000 of its 2.5 million people, reflecting the difficulties faced by African nations in finding enough vaccines in a global battle for vaccinations.
(Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa in Windhoek and Polina Devitt in Moscow; editing by Alexander Winning and Ros Russell)

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