Rollout will start after the necessary clearances over the next few days, says Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories.
India moved a step closer to having a third vaccine in its immunisation drive against COVID-19 when the first consignment of Russia’s Sputnik V landed in Hyderabad on Saturday.
“We are pleased to announce that the first consignment of 1,50,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine has landed in Hyderabad from Russia,” Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories CEO-API and Services Deepak Sapra said.
It came on a day when India began a vaccination programme for those aged 18-44 years — til now those 45 years and above were covered — even as some States reported a shortage of vaccine.
Sputnik V will join Covishield and the indigenous Covaxin that are being used in the country since January.
Based on the human adenoviral vector platform, the Russian vaccine received emergency use authorisation in India last month. The efficacy of Sputnik V has been reported to be 91.6%.
A statement from Dr. Reddy’s, which is the marketing partner of the Russian Direct Investment Fund for Sputnik-V in India, said the roll-out of the consignment would be subject to getting the necessary clearances, which will be processed over the next few days.
“This initial quantity will be used across different channels as a pilot to line up our supply chain for the larger vaccination programme roll-out. Subsequent consignments will arrive in the next few weeks,” Mr. Sapra said.
Some top-level executives of the company recently said the vaccine looked set to join the immunisation programme by May. But clarity on the price at which Sputnik V will be made available is yet to emerge. Discussions on this were underway, sources said. The two-dose vaccine sells at around $10 a shot in other markets globally.
The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) was among the first to announce the arrival of the Sputnik consignment. Retweeting its “Hyderabad Customs, @cgstcushyd facilitated expeditious clearance of SputnikV Vaccine imported from Russia”, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said it was an appropriate timely response and need of the hour.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said Sputnik-V would add to India’s arsenal to fight the pandemic. “This third option will augment our vaccine capacity and accelerate our vaccination drive,” he tweeted. Millions of doses are expected to follow and there are also plans to make the vaccine in India, including for exports to other countries.
The RDIF has already formed manufacturing partnerships with at least five companies in India for producing about 850 million doses of the vaccine a year.