India likely to receive Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccines from Russia on May 1
India is expecting to receive the first batch of Russia's Covid-19 vaccine 'Sputnik V' on May 1, according to an official of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), cited by news agency Reuters. Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the RDIF, told the news agency that the first doses of Sputnik V will be delivered on May 1, adding that he hoped the Russian supplies would help India navigate its way out of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in time.
India, the world's second-most populous country, is struggling with the new, more infectious wave of the pandemic, as hospitals throughout the nation report running out of bed and critical oxygen supplies. India's new coronavirus cases stayed above 300,000 for the sixth consecutive day on Tuesday, recording 323,144 daily Covid-19 cases in the preceding 24 hours. As many as 2,771 new deaths were reported, but health experts believe the tally runs significantly higher.
Several countries, including Britain, Germany, and the United States have pledged to send urgent medical aid to help tackle the coronavirus crisis that is overwhelming India's hospitals. At this time, the arrival of the Sputnik V shot from Russia would mean an addition to India's vaccine arsenal, which is currently running dry with Serum Institute of India's 'Covishield' (the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot) and Bharat Biotech's indigenous 'Covaxin' vaccines.
Although the RDIF chief did not specify how many Sputnik V vaccines would there be in the first batch or where they would be made, Reuters reported that Russia's sovereign wealth fund, which is marketing Sputnik V globally, has already signed agreements with five leading Indian manufacturers for over 850 million doses of the vaccine a year. The RDIF has said it expects production of the vaccine in India to reach 50 million doses a month by the summer and to rise further.
Meanwhile, Russian pharmaceutical firm Pharmasyntez said earlier on Monday that it was ready to ship up to 1 million packs of the Remdesivir antiviral drug to India by the end of May, once it has received the approval of Russia's government.