Russia and its ‘Sputnik V’ vaccine : what the West failed and neglected

Eastern Europe proves once again that it is the pioneer in terms of medicine and that it should not be underestimated.

Vials of the Russian vaccine ‘Sputnik V’ / © REUTERS

On 2 February 2021, the renowned British scientific journal The Lancet revealed that the Russian vaccine Sputnik V had an « efficacy of 91.6% »—an efficacy that is not (yet) accepted by a majority of Western European countries and the rest of the West, although some nations have opted for this vaccine. But then how to explain this dazzling success and, above all, what has the West failed and neglected ?

At a time when many European and non-European countries are suspending the use of the British vaccine AstraZeneca due to « side effects », another part of the world has opted to use the (dreaded, by the West) Russian vaccine, Sputnik V. Indeed, launched on 11 August 2020, a launch deemed « premature » by some institutions, it has an exemplary success rate that has more than one Western nation trembling. Still according to The Lancet, during its trial, 45 of the 16,000 participants called, including 23 of the 5,000 who received a placebo instead of the vaccine, experienced « serious adverse events », but « none were considered associated with vaccination ». Four deaths were, however, reported as a result of the trial, but again none were related to it.

This sudden success without fail, I explain it by two points : firstly, it shows once again that Eastern European countries (and Cuba) are countries not to be neglected when it comes to medicine—and we all know that. Secondly, it shows and proves to the world that Russia is one of the most powerful (if not the most powerful with China) countries in the world, that it is not to be underestimated, and that the rest of the world cannot do without it.

I think that, indeed, the West has (heavily) neglected—or, at least, decided to “do without”—the help, capacity and important medical knowledge of Russia, not to say Eastern countries. A helping hand from the giant associated with Xi Jinping’s powerful China, which has been sorely missed by the European Union (in particular) and the United States. Some nations, however, preferred to make their own decisions and not follow the EU and the US by ordering large doses of Sputnik V. Quite a boost, in my view, not only for the Russian economy but also for its global reputation—it is among the nations not to be disregarded, with whom it would be better to associate than to be its enemy, as Putin himself said, « Russia has no friends, it has only allies. »

Sputnik V can be seen as a kind of “propaganda tool” for Russia—looking, in particular, at its colossal success in Eastern Europe—, although I don’t see it that way, to compete with the West, to get a few more people “on their side”, a kind of new ideological war (« Who’s better between the West and the East? »), like in the old days. But do you really think that Russia needs a vaccine to prove that it too is powerful and has power (and, I would like to say, much more than a good part of the countries on this planet) when we know that it is already monstrously powerful ?

The West has failed where Russia has succeeded : it has taken advantage of the West’s failure with their AstraZeneca vaccine and their haste to get it to market very quickly by assuring that it « works ». Western countries have, from the outset, omitted and brushed aside the Russian vaccine—and thus the renowned Eastern European medicinal know-how—with a wave of the hand before it was even launched, without even taking the time to examine it, to study it. Today, although some nations (such as Germany, for example) have recognised its effectiveness, they hide their desire to appropriate it, too, with an excuse that they are « thinking it over ».

Russia will not wait. Whether the West ultimately wants this vaccine or not, the country knows that its own helps, is effective, and is successful. I doubt that they see it as a “propaganda tool”, I think they are only trying to help, to treat the sick, to prevent the virus. And even then, what good would it bring to them to wage a “propaganda war” if it’s just… boredom, no trophies, no recognition ? I have only one answer to this question : ask the fascists.

Law student and aspiring Political Science student, I write about racism and international affairs (politics) | My twitter : @whoreguimaraes