Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], May 1 (ANI): As many as 1,50,000 doses of Russian COVID vaccine Sputnik V arrived at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad on Saturday.
Last month, the Drug Controller General (DCGI) had issued permission for Dr Reddy's Laboratories to import the Russian vaccine to India for emergency use.
Speaking to ANI, Deepak Sapra, the CEO of Dr Reddy's Laboratories said, "We have received the first shipment of the vaccine after being given permission from DCGI. Currently, 1,50,000 doses have reached here at Hyderabad. The vaccine will be available for the public in the next three to four weeks after it is gone through strategic clearances."
Explaining about the vaccine, Dr Sauri, Head of Research and Development at Dr Reddy's Laboratories said, "This is a human adenoviral vector-based vaccine. It is well proven and safe platform for vaccine delivery. The unique thing about Sputnik V is that the adenoviral vector used in two doses is different. In case the body is unable to create adequate antibodies after immunity created by the first vector, the second vector being different will further boost the immunity."
"The second dose is given after 21 days from the administration of the first dose. The vaccine has to go through the analysis and release test in India. After that, we will work through the government channels to ensure that the distribution is as per the local regulations. Additional imports will come from Russia. We have a contract with RDIA for 125 million subjects or people which means 250 million doses. Initially, the vaccine will be imported from Russia. We will scale it up by producing the vaccine in India. So it will be made in India and distributed to Indian people as well as exported to Russia," Dr Sauri added.
Ravi Prakash Mathur, Vice President and Head of Global Logistics at Dr Reddy's Laboratories told ANI, "This is a -18 degree Celsius storage vaccine. We have to make special provisions for transportation and storage. We have created a state-of-the-art central warehouse in Hyderabad that operates at below -20 degrees Celsius. So, the vaccines will be distributed from there. It will be transported in secure condition by road or air to distributors in the length and breadth of the country. The doses came in ampules. Once taken out, they needed to be administered in 30 minutes."
Kapil Chaudhary, Vice President for Business Development, Dr Reddy's Laboratories said, "Our target is to vaccinate nearly 12.5 crore people. And that would be the plan over the next six months. First, we will import from Russia. After three-four months we will commercially produce in India. So, we hope the speed will pick up in the next three to six months. There would be sufficient doses from June-July onwards both from the imported as well as manufactured path."
Sputnik V is the third vaccine India has given the go-ahead to after Covishield developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca and Covaxin, the indigenous vaccine manufactured by Bharat Biotech. Covishield is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
India is witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases in the second wave of pandemic and is registering the highest daily deaths and positive cases. On top of it, there is an acute shortage of vaccines which has crippled the speed of vaccination drive. Several major states in the country have already postponed the launch of the third phase of vaccination which makes everyone above 18 eligible to get the jab. (ANI)