One thousand volunteers for Sputnik Light vaccine trial in Ghana

BY: Zadok Kwame Gyesi
Participants at the stakeholders engagement
Participants at the stakeholders engagement

A total of 1,000 volunteers will be used in Ghana for the trial of the “Sputnik Light Vaccine, a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Russia.

The volunteers are going to be drawn from communities in Shai Osu Doku District, Ningo Prampram and Navrongo in the Greater Accra and Upper East regions respectively.

This is because Ghana will on June 28, this year, commence trial of the “Sputnik Light Vaccine.

The single-dose shot after successful trial by January 2022, will be enough to trigger strong immune response efficiency, thus enabling countries experiencing a peak of coronavirus to swiftly vaccinate many people within the shortest possible time.

Speaking at a stakeholder engagement at Dodowa last Wednesday, June 23, 2021, which was organised by the Dodowa Health Research Centre, the Principal Investigator for the Sputnik Light Project, Dr Alberta Amu, said the goal of the trial was to assess the safety, efficacy, tolerability and immunogenicity of the vaccine against the disease and also to give the country a voice in the outside world.

She explained that the vaccine was developed on a proven adenoviral vectors platforms and had no element of triggering Coronavirus, adding that participants/volunteers in the trials would be screened, vaccinated and observed at a health facility for about 42 days.

After the 42-days, she said, if the volunteers had not developed any complications, they would be released to go to their individual homes but would be monitored with phone calls for another 21 days.

Touching on criteria for the selection of volunteers, Dr Amu explained, that the trial would be done on non-COVID-19 persons with no underlining health conditions, as well as on people who had not already taken any other COVID-19 vaccines.

She said the vaccine would be tried on persons above 18 years, pointing out that “Participants would have insurance cover-health and life for the period of the study, reimbursement for transport and time used in attending the clinic.”

She has, therefore, encouraged the participants of the stakeholder engagement to be good ambassadors of the exercise before it commences on June 28, 2021.

The Director of the Dodowa Health Center, Dr John William, said vaccine trials are critical in the medical terrain as it helps to ensure the safety of the vaccine before they are administered to a larger population.

He noted that the trail would also help to clear erroneous misconceptions about the vaccine, adding that Ghana’s inability to participate in trial phase of the Oxford-developed Astraveneva COVID-19 vaccine led to some misconception, hence many Ghanaians were skeptical to accept the jabs.

“Clinical trial help answer questions about a vaccine’s safety and efficacy stating vaccine trials are critical to the success of a vaccine,” he said.

Background

With Sputnik V, the first Russian made COVID-19 vaccine, which is already in use, a second dose is administered after three to four weeks for maximum protection but with Sputnik Light, it is just a single dose same as the Johnson & Johnson one.

The vaccine can be stored at a normal refrigerator temperature of 2–8 °C (36–46 °F). The developers say this version, with an effectiveness of 79.4 percent, would be ideally suited for areas with acute outbreaks, allowing more people to be vaccinated quickly.

The Sputnik V vaccine works in a similar way to others developed by Oxford/AstraZeneca and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson. It uses a cold-type virus, engineered to be harmless, as a carrier to deliver a small fragment of the coronavirus to the body.