Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V, which has received the restricted emergency use approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), may be made available for use in India by mid-May. The vaccine which is to be imported from Russia initially will be locally manufactured from the July-September quarter, according to officials from Dr Reddy’s Laboratories.
With this, India now has three vaccines against COVID-19, including Covishield- the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
Sputnik V combines two different human adenoviral vectors for a prime and a boost immunisation (250m units comprising 125m doses each of vectors Ad26 and Ad5 to be injected 21 days apart). This claims to provide a stronger and longer-term immune response compared to vaccines using the same vector component for both inoculations like that of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“The first batches are going to be produced by RDIF (Russian Direct Investment Fund) and will be imported to India by us,” Dr Reddy’s Laboratories co-chairman and managing director GV Prasad said. Sources added that RDIF could begin shipping the doses from Russia as early as mid-May once the vaccine batches are tested and approved by Indian regulators.
Dr Reddy’s has a contract with RDIF for distributing 125 million people equivalent doses. The vaccine has a shelf life of six months and while the ideal storage temperature is -18 to -22 oC, the firm is in the process of generating additional stability data on +2 to +8 oC range to make the process of storage and transportation easier.