Angola: Sputnik V vaccine administered to 40,000 people as AstroZeneca paused

Angola has for the first time begun administering the Russia-made Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19, with 40,000 people having already had a first dose, the secretary of state for public health, Franco Mufinda, told Lusa on Wednesday.

The Sputnik V vaccine is made up of two components, with the second reinforcing the immunity “awakened” by the first, Mufinda said.

“From the point of view of the vaccine manufacturing, one component complements the other, that is, the second component reinforces the process that triggered the first component, which is the awakening of immunity,” explained Mufinda. “The second component is based on that immunity that is intended for us to be protected against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

According to the secretary of state, the interval between the two doses is at least three weeks, and can go up to three months. The most recent studies advise an interval of between 21 and 45 days for a better range of immunity, he added.

Mufinda said that two more vaccination posts had recently been set up in Luanda province, in Cidadela Desportiva and in Viana.

Regarding expected side effects from the Sputnik vaccine, Mufinda cited a slight headache, dizziness and a sore or heavy arm.

“These are effects that happen, that should be managed by taking a paracetamol,” he said, adding that the overall vaccination process in Angola is “taking place as planned”.

Also in comments to Lusa, Angola’s national director of public health, Helga Freitas, explained that the first dose of Sputnik V contains the human antigen 26 and the second the human antigen 5, so “a person can never be immunised with just one dose” of the vaccine.

“People should do the first and second dose because otherwise they are not immunised and we will not be able to have herd immunity,” she said.

Freitas said that Angola’s 8,000-strong Chinese community had already had the first and second doses of the China-made Sinopharm vaccine administered and that from Thursday all Angola’s defence and security officials will start being inoculated with a first dose of the same vaccine.

As of Monday a total of 614,184 people had been vaccinated, of which 581,796 had had a first dose and 32,388 both doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Angola’s government has in the meantime temporarily suspended vaccination with the first dose of AstraZeneca, until the immunisation cycle for the second dose has been concluded, to restart the process later.

The country has had a cumulative 29,146 confirmed cases of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, with 639 deaths associated with the disease. A total of 25,145 people are deemed to have recovered and there are currently 3,362 active cases.