The Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine is the latest buzz among the Coronavirus fighting tools in town.
This is after two prominent Nairobi lawyers – Donald Kipkorir and Ahmednassir Abdullahi were photographed receiving the vaccine yesterday. They were the first Kenyans to be inoculated using Sputnik V, brushing off the government of Kenya-approved AstraZeneca. DP William Ruto also apparently received the Sputnik V, though he did not specify.
But what do we know about this new vaccine, and how does it stack up against the Oxford AstraZeneca?
It is made by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Russia.
According to The Lancet, it offers around 92% protection against Covid-19. In comparison, the AstraZeneca offers around 75% protection. Though initially met with controversy after being rolled out before the final trial data had been released, Sputnik V is now in the ranks of proven vaccines that includes Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen.
The Sputnik vaccine works in a similar way to the AstraZeneca jab (UK) and Janssen (Belgium).
It uses a cold-type virus, engineered to be harmless, as a carrier to deliver a small fragment of the coronavirus to the body.
Safely exposing the body to part of the virus’s genetic code in this way allows it to recognise the threat and learn to fight it off, without risking becoming ill.
After being vaccinated, the body starts to produce antibodies specially tailored to the coronavirus.
This means the immune system is primed to fight coronavirus when if it encounters it for real.
It can be stored at temperatures of between 2 and 8C degrees (a standard fridge is roughly 3-5C degrees) making it easier to transport and store.
But unlike other similar vaccines, the Sputnik jab uses two slightly different versions of the vaccine for the first and second dose – given 21 days apart.
They both target the coronavirus’s distinctive “spike”, but use different vectors – the neutralised virus that carries the spike to the body.
The idea is that using two different formulas boosts the immune system even more than using the same version twice – and may give longer-lasting protection.
As well as proving effective, it was also safe with no serious reactions linked to the vaccine during the trial.
Some side effects to a vaccine are expected but these are usually mild, including a sore arm, tiredness and a bit of a temperature.
And there were no deaths or serious illness in the vaccinated group linked to the jab.
As well as Russia, the vaccine is being used in Argentina, Palestinian territories, Venezuela, Hungary, UAE and Iran.
In Kenya, you can get the Sputnik V (at about Ksh8,000) by book through this link http://covid19.healthierkenya.com
-Additional reporting by the BBC