Russia looking to partner with India for COVID-19 vaccine production
Russia has been in the headlines for its two-month-tested 'Sputnik V' COVID-19 vaccine. The shot, developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, was cleared a few weeks ago as the "first officially-approved solution" to fight the novel coronavirus disease. Now, it appears that the Vladimir Putin-led nation is looking to join hands with India to produce it for the world.
Looking for mass-production partnership with India
In a recent press briefing, Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund - the main backer of Sputnik V, said they are looking for a mass-production partnership with India. "We believe that they are capable of producing the Gamaleya vaccine and it is very important to say that those partnerships will enable us to cover the demand that we have," he emphasized.
Sputnik V: Approved on August 11, Putin's daughter inoculated
The global interest in Sputnik V has spiked since its official registration on August 11. Given in two doses at a gap of 21 days, the vaccine uses 2 different adenoviruses and the spike protein from the coronavirus to induce an antibody-based immunity against COVID-19. Russian President claims it forms a "stable immunity" and one of his two daughters have already been inoculated.
Since then, Russia has been moving to scale up production
Following the registration, which clears the way for public use of Sputnik V, Russia has been moving towards scaling up the manufacturing of the vaccine. Just last week, it was reported that the country has started local production with Gamaleya Institute as well as Sistema, a renowned business house. The target is to start mass-immunization drives for locals by October, reports have suggested.
High demand from Asia, Latin America, Italy
Along with local immunization, Russia also has to manufacture to meet global demand. "We are planning to produce the vaccine in more than five countries and there is a very high demand from Asia, Latin America, Italy, and other parts of the world regarding the delivery of the vaccine," Dmitriev added in the briefing while noting the importance of international cooperation for this mission.
Foreign requests for 1 billion doses
Previously, Dmitriev had said that Russia has already received foreign requests for 1 billion doses and has signed international agreements to produce 500 million doses annually.
But, will it come to India?
As Russia moves ahead with the mass-production plan, the question remains: Will Sputnik V come to India? There is no way to be sure right now, but there have been reports that the Indian embassy in Moscow has gotten in touch with Gamaleya to discuss the efficacy and safety of the shot. Currently, there is no peer-reviewed data on Sputnik V's effectiveness or safety.
Phase-3 trials also moving ahead at the same time
Notably, even though registered, Sputnik V is still moving through Phase-3 trials in Russia - an approach many questioned. If the shot comes to India, it will probably first go through a late-stage trial on the local population. "We are going to do clinical trials not just in Russia but also in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, probably in Brazil and India," Dmitriev noted.