COVID-19: Serum to start producing Sputnik V vaccine from September
The Serum Institute of India (SII) will begin producing the Russian COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, from September, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) announced today. The RDIF funds and markets this vaccine across the globe. SII and the RDIF plan to produce over 300 million (30 crore) vaccine doses in India annually, they said. Here are more details on this.
Technology transfer has already started, RDIF says
On July 4, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had granted test license to SII for manufacturing small batches, meant for examination and analysis, at its licensed facility in Pune. Technology transfer has already started and the SII has received cell and vector samples from the Gamaleya Center in Russia, which has developed the vaccine.
'Delighted to cooperate with Serum Institute of India'
"RDIF is delighted to cooperate with Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer," said Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO at RDIF. "This strategic partnership is a major step to substantially increase our production capabilities demonstrating a perfect example of joining forces and expertise to save lives both in India and around the world," Dmitriev added.
'Important to bolster our fight against the pandemic'
Meanwhile, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said in a statement, "We hope to make millions of doses in the coming months with trial batches starting in the month of September." "With high efficacy and a good safety profile, it is critical that the Sputnik vaccine is accessible in full measure for people across India and the world," he added.
SII is associated with three other vaccines
SII is also involved in the manufacturing of Covishield (the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which is the most prevalent in India) and Covovax (the Indian version of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine). It is also carrying out trials of Codagenix in the UK.
Sputnik V is over 90% effective against COVID-19
Sputnik V, an adenoviral vaccine, was found to be over 90% effective in trials. It has been developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Russian Ministry of Health. The RDIF has, in the past, tied up with Gland Pharma, Hetero Biopharma, Panacea Biotec, Stelis Biopharma, Virchow Biotech, and Morepen Laboratories for the vaccine's production.
'Sputnik V's commercial launch in coming weeks'
For now, the Hyderabad-based Dr. Reddy's Laboratories has been importing limited amounts of Sputnik V vaccine doses and distributing them to hospitals across India. "We will strengthen the commercial roll-out of Sputnik V in the coming weeks," Dr. Reddy's said on Monday.
How is India's vaccination drive going?
The development holds significance as several states across India, including Delhi, are currently facing a vaccine shortage. India has administered over 38 crore vaccine doses so far. Even though over 22% of Indians have received at least one vaccine shot, just around 5.5% have been fully inoculated as yet. The central government, nonetheless, plans to vaccinate all adults by the end of this year.