Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical firm Dr Reddy’s Laboratories will begin importing Russia’s coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, in the April-June quarter, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.
Sputnik V is the third vaccine to receive emergency-use authorisation in India, after Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
Deepak Sapra, the chief executive officer of Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, told the newspaper that the company was likely to receive around 25 crore doses of the vaccine, as per an agreement with the Russian Direct Investment Fund.
Sapra added that the number of imports could be increased if the Russian sovereign wealth fund agrees to it. The executive also said that Dr Reddy’s was continuing discussions with the government about the vaccine’s price.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund also has contracts with other Indian firms, including Gland Pharma and Hetero Biopharma, to produce doses of the vaccine. Sapra told The Indian Express that Sputnik V’s availability was likely to increase between July and September.
Sputnik V had shown 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 vaccination. The trial did not include efficacy data of the vaccine for new variants of the coronavirus though.
The vaccine is administered in two doses separated by 21 days, and requires a minus 18-20 degree Celsius cold chain to remain stable. Efforts are underway to develop a freeze dried version of the shot, which will stay stable in the 2 to 8 degrees Celsius temperature range.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, said that more than 850 million, or 85 crore, doses of the Sputnik V vaccine will be produced in India annually.
Several states in India are facing vaccine shortages amid the surge in coronavirus cases. In view of the shortages, the government has also fast-tracked emergency approvals for foreign-produced vaccines that have been cleared in other countries. The move will allow quicker access to other vaccines and pave the way for imports, the Centre said.