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Sinopharm with a dose: the Argentine bet against the Covid that leaves in doubt the immunity of the vaccinated


The government postponed the second dose for 3 months. Now China has admitted that its vaccines protect less than expected and there is no data on efficacy with one dose. Also, the case of Sputnik and what the experts say.

Pablo Sigal

04/11/2021 1:33 PM

  • Clarí

  • Society

Updated 04/11/2021 1:34 PM

Of the more than

5.3 million people vaccinated

against the


in Argentina, only

727 thousand

have received the two doses.

On March 26, the 24 ministers of Health of the country made the decision to postpone a minimum of three months the application of the second dose of the vaccines Sputnik V (Gamaleya), Vero Cell (Sinopharm) and Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca).

The greatest uncertainty about the power of vaccines in these inferior conditions occurs

with the Chinese one

, without data on how it can protect with this emergency calendar.

This Sunday a new element of uncertainty was added: Chinese authorities have admitted that their vaccines are

less effective

than expected.

Although for the Russian vaccine the period of three months is not indicated by its manufacturers, there is a fact in its favor: the effectiveness with

the first dose is 87 percent.

 In the case of Sputnik V, there is also a dependence on the availability of the second component, with less production.

The Sinopharm vaccine consists of two equal doses and the responsibility of how they are administered

is all Argentina.

The official objective of having made this health decision is, in the absence of vaccines, to immunize the

largest number of vulnerable people

with at least half a scheme, to immediately face the new wave of Covid and try to avoid high fatality .

However, the plan as it is designed runs a risk, since only in the case of the AstraZeneca vaccine or its Indian version (Covishield) does the strategy have a

scientifically proven foundation

: the first dose achieves 76 percent effectiveness and the second boosts the antibodies when applied three months later.

The ministers who have agreed on the same measure for all vaccines applied in the country presume that,

by analogy

, the other two brands would have a similar immune response.

But each one deserves a separate explanation.

In the case of Sputnik V, the conventional time between one dose and another is 21 to 28 days.

The directors of the Gamaleya Institute assured, in public statements, that the interval could be extended to

a maximum of two months


Although that is not written.

Less written is that it is convenient to stretch the time to three months or more.

Based on the decision of the Argentine ministers, the Government would ask Russia to

give priority to sending first doses

, according to

sources who had access to the meeting of the Federal Health Council (Cofesa) at the end of March

, explained to



This occurs in a context in which the second component of Sputnik V

is missing

, so much so that the inconvenience has motivated Moscow to begin, on March 29, the registration procedures for the

“Sputnik light”


According to Gamaleya, it is nothing other than the first component of traditional Sputnik.

The case of Sinopharm

In the case of the Sinopharm vaccine, the situation seems

even more complex


On the one hand, it was developed with a different technology than the other two, with

inactivated virus

, which a priori could indicate the demand for a booster without delay, in the times provided by the laboratory (4 weeks).

As phase 3 results were not published, the efficacy of the single dose vaccine and its duration are not known.

Based on the documentation received from China, ANMAT decided to recommend to the Government the approval of this vaccine.

Argentina has bought

four million doses

, of which half is still expected to arrive.

With both doses it is

79.3 percent effective


The precedent of another Chinese vaccine, used in Chile, raises some concern.

An investigation by the University of Chile on CoronaVac - also made with inactivated virus - determined that with a single dose it achieves a real effectiveness of

3 percent

, while with the second it rises to

56.5 percent.

 The trans-Andean country is currently experiencing an explosive second wave of Covid.

He vaccinated 38.1 percent of his population with one dose and 23.5 percent with two.

Vaccination with SinoVac doses in Santiago de Chile.

Photo: Reuters

Sinopharm's Vero Cell

is currently used in 26 countries

: Bahrain, Bolivia, Cambodia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Hungary, Iraq, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Macao, Mauritania, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Pakistan, Peru, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Serbia, United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe, as well as Argentina and the producing country.

President Alberto Fernández spoke last Friday about the Chinese plan and assured that for the next few days the arrival of the balance of

two million vaccines

that Argentina bought from Beijing is expected.

If all these vaccines were applied as first doses, those already inoculated would have to wait for the Government to make a new acquisition to complete the schedules.

At the moment the contract runs out there.

As far as reported, only two countries, apart from Argentina, have decided to

postpone second doses

of vaccines: Great Britain, with AstraZeneca;

and Canada, with the same one plus those of Pfizer and Moderna.

Argentina is above the world average in the administration of at least one dose of vaccine to its population:

9.9 percent against the global 5.5 percent.

In the curve of the two doses, on the other hand, it is already below:

1.6 percent local versus 2.2 percent worldwide


Based on the government's public policy, this gap will be growing.

What the experts say

The opinions of infectologists regarding the advisability of applying the delaying criterion in Argentina are divided.

Roberto Debbag, vice president of the Latin American Society of Pediatric Infectology, considers that although it is not the happiest option, it

is imperative to

do so due to the shortage of vaccines.

That is, take the risk to vaccinate more people faster.

“It is not adequate, but it is necessary.

I trust the analogy with other vaccines.

The immunization of

7.4 million older adults must be completed

before winter to avoid deaths.

The body has memory and even if the time for the second dose is later, coverage can be completed, "says Debbag.

Empty vials of the Sinopharm vaccine, in a Buenos Aires health center.

Photo: Xinhua

At the same time, the expert clarified: "In the case of Sinopharm, the government should say, anyway, that the second dose will

not be given after three months

but in the shortest time possible. And the same would have to do with the Sputnik".

Arnaldo Casiró, head of Infectious Diseases at Hospital Alvarez, emphasizes the problem that immunity declines in

a time that is now ignored

, and that this ends up strengthening Covid through new mutations and more aggressive variants.

In other words, the risk that today's bread is tomorrow's hunger.

“Nobody explains what are the

scientific reasons

on which they were based to do this.

It seems to be just plugging the hole in the lack of vaccines.

But it can be very dangerous, ”says Casiró.

A third look is that of Eduardo López, infectologist and government advisor, who in his considerations starts from this base:

nothing that is known about Sinopharm has

yet been published.

In other words, this Chinese vaccine would be in a similar status to that of Sputnik V before the phase 3 paper was published in The Lancet.

A limbo where objective evidence transmutes into a subjective option: to trust or not to trust.

Added to that are the

official contradictions themselves


The content of the Sinopharm Vaccination Manual, published on February 28 by the Argentine Ministry of Health, states: “The protection of the vaccine is not immediate: vaccination includes a series of 2 doses and will take 1 to 2 weeks after the second dose to consider that the protection is adequate ”.


Look also

Russians resist Sputnik V: a lower percentage was vaccinated than in Argentina

Daniel Gollan questioned the purchase of vaccines by the provinces and warned about the "black markets"

Source: clarin

All life articles on 2021-04-11

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