Experts clear Russia’s Sputnik Covid-19 vaccine for use in India
The approval of Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V comes amid a surge in cases across several states and Union Territories. India now has three approved Covid-19 vaccines - Covaxin, Covishield and Sputnik-V.
A committee of experts has granted emergency use approval to Sputnik-V, the vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) developed by Russia, in India, which is in the middle of the second wave of the pandemic. After Covishield and Covaxin, this will become the third Covid-19 vaccine to be used in the country if it is given a go-ahead by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI).
Dr Reddy's Laboratories, the Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company, last week sought the government's approval for the vaccine to be used in India. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) partnered with Dr Reddy's in September 2020 to conduct clinical trials of Sputnik V in India. The Russian vaccine has an efficacy of 91.6% based on the interim analysis of phase III clinical trials, which included data from 19,866 volunteers in Russia. and is conducting its Phase III clinical trials in the UAE, India, Venezuela and Belarus, according to the Sputnik-V's website.
Along with Dr Reddy’s, RDIF partnered with Hyderabad-based Virchow Biotech Private Limited in March to produce up to 200 million doses per year of Sputnik V in India, according to news agency PTI. It has also partnered with Stelis Biopharma Pvt Ltd and Panacea Biotec earlier in April as well to produce 200 million and 100 million doses per year of Sputnik V in the country.
The makers of the vaccine claim Sputnik-V is an affordable vaccine and can be "stored at a temperature of +2 to +8°C ". They say that these aspects of Sputnik-V allow for fast distribution of the vaccine in hard-to-reach regions across the globe.
The move to approve Sputnik-V by the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) comes as India faces a surge in Covid-19 cases across the nation with Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Kerala witnessing a surge in their daily caseload. India launched its vaccination drive on January 16 with Covaxin of Bharat Biotech and the vaccine developed by Oxford University-AstraZeneca, which is being manufactured as Covishield by the Serum Institute of India, after they were granted emergency use approval on January 1 and January 3 respectively.
India has vaccinated 10.45 crore people according to data published by the Union health ministry on Monday. The government has declared a vaccine festival from April 11 to April 14. On Day 1 of Tika Utsav, the government said 30 lakh doses were administered.
(with inputs from Rhythma Kaul)