Russia's vaccine in India on May Day
India is expecting to receive the first batch of Russia's Covid-19 vaccine 'Sputnik V' on May 1, according to an official of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF)
New Delhi: India is expecting to receive the first batch of Russia's Covid-19 vaccine 'Sputnik V' on May 1, according to an official of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the RDIF, said the first doses of Sputnik V will be delivered on May 1, adding that he hoped the Russian supplies would help India navigate its way out of the second wave of the pandemic in time.
India is struggling with the new, more infectious wave of the pandemic, as hospitals throughout the nation report running out of bed and critical oxygen supplies. India's new coronavirus cases stayed above 300,000 for the sixth consecutive day on Tuesday, recording 323,144 daily Covid-19 cases in the preceding 24 hours. Several countries, including Britain, Germany, and the United States have pledged to send urgent medical aid to help tackle the coronavirus crisis that is overwhelming India's hospitals.
At this time, the arrival of the Sputnik V shot from Russia would mean an addition to India's vaccine arsenal, which is currently running dry with Serum Institute of India's 'Covishield' (the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot) and Bharat Biotech's indigenous 'Covaxin' vaccines.
Although the RDIF chief did not specify how many Sputnik V vaccines would there be in the first batch or where they would be made, it is reported that Russia's sovereign wealth fund, which is marketing Sputnik V globally, has already signed agreements with five leading Indian manufacturers for over 850 million doses of the vaccine a year. The RDIF has said it expects production of the vaccine in India to reach 50 million doses a month by the summer and to rise further.
Meanwhile, Russian pharmaceutical firm Pharmasyntez said earlier on Monday that it was ready to ship up to 1 million packs of the Remdesivir antiviral drug to India by the end of May, once it has received the approval of Russia's government.
Meanwhile, Dr Reddy's Laboratories CEO Deepak Sapra said the first batch of the vaccine will be imported. "Initially, the vaccine will be imported from Russia in a limited quantity. Thereafter, the supply will be ramped up as the Indian manufacturers will start delivering," Deepak Sapra said in an interview a news channel.
He said that they expect to deliver enough doses to vaccinate 12 to 13 crore people in India within 2021. He, however, did not divulge the number of vaccine doses that will be imported from Russia in May.
As per government guidelines for procurement of Covid-19 vaccines, the first batch - imported from Russia- will be available in private markets and the subsequent batches - produced in India - will be divided between the Centre, and State governments and private players, Deepak Sapra said.