INDIA.Mumbai: The first batch of Russian COVID-19 vaccine- “Sputnik V”, developed by Russia’s Gamaleya National Center Covid, has arrived and more batches will be arriving and the vaccine is likely to be available in the market by next week, Dr. VK Paul, Member-Health of Niti Aayog said on Thursday.
“ Sputnik V” will be imported in the frozen form from Russia this quarter. Hyderabad-based Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Limited(DRL), is responsible for ensuring that the vaccine remains stable and sanctity of the cold chain is maintained — from the manufacturing site in Russia to its cold chain point and eventually to all parts of India.
Dr. VK Paul said that “Sputnik V” will be produced in India from July onwards. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories is the Indian partner of the Russian vaccine and the country is looking to produce 15.6 crore doses of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine.
Over 2 bn vaccines doses to be available in India
Over 2 billion doses of vaccines against the novel coronavirus are likely to be available in India between August and December this year. They would include 750 million dosages of AstraZeneca’s vaccine –“Covishield”, produced in India by the Serum Institute of India and 550 million doses of “Covaxin”, an indigenous vaccine made by Bharat Biotech.
3 vaccines approved for sale in India
As of now, three vaccines-“Covaxin”, “Coveshield” and “Sputnik V” have been approved for sale in the country. The “Sputnik V” has been approved to be imported from Russia by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories.
With an efficacy of 91.6%, “Sputnik V” was the first vaccine against coronavirus in the world. Clinical trial data published in “The Lancet” indicated that it “appears safe and effective”. It requires a temperature range of -18°C to -22°C to remain stable. More than 60 countries had registered “Sputnik V” for emergency use and most of these countries already received the first batch of the vaccine.
Russia has been actively marketing “Sputnik V” abroad despite the comparatively slow rollout at home and limited production capacities. Dozens of nations have approved the use of “Sputnik V”, and many signed deals with the Russian Direct Investment Fund(RDIF) that bankrolled the vaccine to get shipments of the shot. As of now, DRL’s contract with the RDIF is for 250 million doses for India. DCGI granted regulatory approval or restricted use authorization to “Sputnik V” on April 12, 2021.
The government is also expecting Zydus Cadilla’s DNA vaccine, towards the end of its phase three trial, to apply for a license soon. The single drop, single-dose nasal vaccine is also expected to add to the supply of vaccines in India by almost 100 million, Paul said.
The NITI Aayog recently said that India would examine the claim of whether a single dose of Sputnik Light can protect from the coronavirus infection.
Regarding other vaccine candidates such as Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Dr. Paul said that the authorities are constantly in touch with the manufacturers and significant headway is likely to happen in the third quarter of the year.
India’s vaccination drive
Meanwhile, over 17.72 crore people have been vaccinated in the country. Although the Union Government declared all those above 18 years of age-eligible for vaccination, from May 01 onwards, some of the states like Maharashtra have suspended the vaccination for the 18-44 years age group, and available vaccines have been prioritized for those above 45 years needing the second dose.
Recovered COVID-19 patients
In the meanwhile, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) on Thursday said that the recovered COVID-19 patients should wait for six months before getting vaccinated. In the case of individuals who have received the first dose and before completion of the dosing schedule if they test positive for COVID-19, they should wait for 4-8 weeks after clinical recovery from the illness. Also, COVID-19 patients who have been given anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma may defer COVID-19 vaccination for three months from the day of discharge from the hospital.
Pregnant women Can Choose Vaccine
NTAGI also suggested that pregnant women may be offered the choice to take any COVID-19 vaccine and that lactating women can be inoculated any time after delivery. The NTAGI recommended that all pregnant women visiting for Ante Natal Care may be informed about risks and benefits associated with “Covishield” and “Covaxin”. Based on the information provided, a pregnant woman may be offered the choice to take any of the vaccines.
According to the current vaccination protocol, pregnant and lactating women should not be administered the shots as they have not been part of any anti-coronavirus vaccine clinical trial so far.