India receives over a lakh Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine doses from Russia
One hundred and fifty-thousand doses of the Russian Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine, Sputnik V, arrived in India on Saturday, the licensed distributors of the vaccine in India announced.
Dr Reddy’s Labs that has the license to distribute the vaccine said in a statement that the doses arrived in Hyderabad from Russia, and the company was in the process of working out necessary formalities for its rollout.
“We are pleased to announce that the first consignment of 150,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine has landed in Hyderabad from Russia. The rollout of the consignment will be subject to the necessary clearances, which will be processed over the next few days. This initial quantity will be used across different channels as a pilot to line up our supply chain for the larger vaccination programme rollout,” Dr Reddy’s statement read.
More doses are expected to arrive soon.
“Subsequent consignments will arrive in the next few weeks. This is a reaffirmation of Dr Reddy’s commitment towards combating Covid-19 in India through our portfolio of therapeutics and vaccines,” said Deepak Sapra, chief executive officer, API and services, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, in a statement.
The ministry of external affairs spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, also confirmed the news through a tweet.
“Sputnik-V vaccine arrives in Hyderabad from Russia! Will add to India’s arsenal to fight the pandemic. This third option will augment our vaccine capacity & accelerate our vaccination drive,” he tweeted soon after the arrival of the vaccine.
“This is the 1st consignment of 1.5 lakh doses of Sputnik-V vaccine with millions of doses to follow. Plans to ‘Make in India’ for use in India, Russia & 3rd countries. Deeply value support from long-standing friend Russia. Over a decade of India Russia special & privileged strategic partnership,” he said in another tweet.
On April 13, Dr Reddy’s Labs received India’s drugs controller’s approval for import of the vaccine under restricted use in an emergency situation, making it the third vaccine allowed for use in India against Covid-19.
The vaccine’s efficacy is pegged at 91.6% based on the final assessment of clinical trials in Russia, where roughly 20,000 people were part of the phase-3 clinical trials.
In India, the vaccine is being tested by Dr Reddy’s in 1,600 people in a phase 2/3 trial meant as a “bridging study” that all foreign-made pharmaceutical products need to undergo.
The production locally, through various tie-ups, could start by end of June or early July, according to Kirill Dmitriev, CEO, Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Russia’s sovereign wealth fund that is marketing the vaccine globally.
Besides a partnership with Dr Reddy’s Labs, which is also conducting Sputnik V clinical trials locally, the RDIF has entered a manufacturing partnership with five other local companies for production. The companies are Stelis Biopharma, Gland Pharma, Hetero Biopharma, Panacea Biotec and Virchow Biotech. Among these companies, Hetero Biopharma last week received the Drugs Controller General of India’s (DCGI) clearance to conduct phase 3 clinical trials of the vaccine in India.
India will be producing at least 50 million doses per month of Sputnik V, over the next couple of months.
“We are looking at producing 50 million doses or more a month of Sputnik V by this summer, or end of summer, in India. India has a significant production capacity; we have already announced tie-ups with five local companies for mass production of Sputnik V, and we intend to have several more tie-ups that will announce soon; likely in the next 2 weeks,” Dmitriev earlier said.