Russian manufacturer confirms authenticity of Guyana’s Sputnik V doses

…Health Ministry demands apology from Harmon

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) on Tuesday confirmed the authenticity of the Sputnik V vaccines currently being used in Guyana’s nationwide immunization campaign.

General Director at the RDIF Corporate Center, Alexander Chistyakov

General Director at the RDIF Corporate Center, Alexander Chistyakov, dispatched a letter to Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony confirming this information. This development comes amid recent public remarks made by Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon which sought to insinuate that the vaccines are fake – a statement which was already condemned by Government and other entities.
In the document, released to the media, the RDIF stated, “We would like to confirm, hereby, the authenticity of the shipments of “Gam-COVID-Vac” adenovirus vector vaccine, containing Component-I: recombinant serotype-26 adenoviral particles containing the S-protein gene of the SAR-CoV-2 virus and containing Component II: recombinant serotype-5 adenoviral particles containing the S-protein gene of the SARS-CoV-2 (Sputnik-V).”
It noted that batches were dispatched to a company called Aurugulf in the United Arab Emirates, which received authority to sell and distribute Sputnik V shots to other countries, including Guyana. All documentation relation to the batch release, certification of analysis and packing list were also provided.
After receiving backlash from several entities, officials and President Irfaan Ali, the Opposition Leader on Monday backpedalled from his posture last week and said it can be “reasonably presumed” that the Sputnik V vaccines that were procured are authentic.

Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon

Harmon, who also questioned the price which Government paid, also acknowledged that vaccine scarcity was a problem and that the PPP Government, like any Government would, found itself in a difficult position when it came to procuring vaccines. According to him, if the coalition Government was in the PPP’s shoes it would have been “equally desperate” to secure the vaccines.
In light of the RDIF’s confirmation, the Health Ministry said, “The letter dismisses Mr Joseph Harmon’s malicious and reckless statements that the Sputnik V vaccines in Guyana are fake. The batch numbers issued by the RDIF (match those) of the vaccines received by the Ministry of Health. So now that there is no doubt about the authenticity of the Sputnik V vaccine in Guyana.”
In light of this, the Ministry has called on the Opposition Leader “to publicly withdraw his reckless and irresponsible statements and to issue a public apology to the Guyanese people for the irreparable harm that he has done to the national vaccination program, the distrust that he has created, and the vaccine hesitancy that he caused which has indirectly put at risk the lives of many Guyanese.”
Previously, the Ministry had maintained that Guyana has not imported any vaccine without the requisite registration and approval for emergency use by Guyana’s regulatory agency, which is the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD).
It was explained that authorities had previously engaged other cheaper manufacturers to secure vaccines, but to no avail. Through the Office of Admed Dalmook Al Maktoum in Dubai, the Sputnik doses were sourced directly from the Russian manufacturer.
“In every instance, the Ministry of Health has followed the established process and has established legally binding contracts to ensure the timely delivery of these vaccines… The Ministry of Health rejects the Leader of the Opposition’s mischievous and malicious attempt to derail the COVID-19 vaccination program in Guyana. Instead, we will again encourage him, stop his divisiveness, stop undermining the vaccination drive, and ask that he encourage everyone to take their vaccines,” the Ministry had previously said.
President Ali had also called on Guyanese not to fall prey to political gimmicks, moreso since Harmon was vaccinated with both doses of the Sputnik V jab.
“I implore Guyanese not to fall prey to the political selfishness of Harmon, not to fall prey to the shameful recklessness and self-serving interest of Harmon…He is doing this at a time when he himself took Sputnik. This level of irresponsibility, this level of selfishness, is beyond anything that a leader or someone who has prided himself with the values of leadership can demonstrate,” the Head of State had opined last week.
Meanwhile, Advisor to the Health Ministry, former Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy, on Monday lamented that after ‘a failed whisper campaign’, the Opposition Leader is now moving to question storage of these jabs. However, he dismissed such claims, noting that the temperature is monitored in real time.
“Last week he claimed, without an iota of evidence, that the Sputnik vaccine was fake. Now he says the vaccines are authentic and good, but that it was not stored properly. There is nothing wrong with storage. We monitor in real time what the storage temperature is. This man is desperate to stop the vaccine. He is reckless in questioning the vaccine,” Ramsammy said on his social media page. (G12)