India will begin producing the Russian-made coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V in August, DB Venkatesh Varma, India’s ambassador to Russia, said on Saturday, according to ANI.
“For Sputnik, 1,50,000 doses plus 60,000 doses [have been] supplied to India,” Varma said. “By May-end, about 3 million [30 lakh] doses will be supplied in bulk. Those will be filled in India. In June, it’s expected to increase to 5 million [50 lakh].”
Varma added that the vaccine’s production will be a three-phase process. The first phase will be the supply of vaccines from Russia, which has already begun. “Second, RDIF [Russian Direct Investment Fund] will send [doses] to India in bulk. It will be ready for use but it will have to be filled in various bottles in India.”
The ambassador said that the third step will involve Russia transferring the technology to produce the vaccine to Indian companies.
Varma added that 850 million (85 crore) Sputnik V doses will be produced in India. “Almost 65%-70% of Sputnik produced anywhere in the world will be from India, finally,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Varma also said that regulatory approval for the single-shot Sputnik Light vaccine was still pending, India Today reported. “But once those regulatory approvals are given, Sputnik Light will be one more area of cooperation between India and Russia,” he added.
Pharmaceutical firm Dr Reddy’s Laboratories had launched Sputnik V on May 14. The vaccine is yet to be made available to beneficiaries in India. It will be priced at Rs 995.5 per dose.
The first batch of Sputnik vaccines arrived in India on May 1, and received regulatory clearance from the Central Drugs Laboratory, Kasauli, on May 13. Dr Reddy’s said that more consignments from Russia were expected in the coming months.
Sputnik V is a two-dose shot with a 91.6% efficacy in late-stage trials, according to results published in February. No serious adverse events were found to be linked with the vaccine. It has a higher efficacy rate than the two vaccines currently approved in India – Covaxin, manufactured by Bharat Biotech, and Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute of India. The vaccine can be stored at a temperature of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.
India is facing shortages of vaccine doses from domestic manufacturers amid the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. At least 11 states have decided to float global tenders to procure the doses.