Cost Effective, Can be Stored At Normal Fridge Temperature: How Sputnik V Will Boost India's War on Covid

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Russia’s Sputnik V is expected to be approved for emergency use in India. The Subject Expert Committee (SEC) of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) on Monday took up the application of Dr Reddy’s Laboratories seeking emergency use authorisation for Sputnik V. This will be the third COVID-19 vaccine to be available in India.

The approval comes at a crucial time as India’s two vaccine makers- Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech- are struggling to keep up with the supply demand in the country coupled with steep spike in coronavirus cases. Even though India has been administering highest number of doses daily, vaccine shortage has been a looming crisis as several parts of the country have reported supply deficit. “In terms of the number of daily doses administered globally, India continues to remain at the top with an average of 40,55,055 doses administered per day,” the health ministry said.

While Sputnik V had its share of controversies soon after roll out, the vaccine efficacy is around 92%. The Russian vaccine has been termed safe and provides ‘complete protection against hospitalisation and death’. It works in the similar way as UK’s AstraZeneca jab.

In September last year, Dr Reddy’s partnered with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to conduct clinical trials of Sputnik V and for its distribution rights in India.

Among some advantages of the Russian vaccine are the feasibility of its storage. The RDIF had noted that Sputnik V needs a storage temperature of 2-8 degree C, implying it can be stored in conventional refrigerators and does not require an additional cold-chain infrastructure, making storage and trasportation easy. The jab is is affordable at a cost of less than $10. Sputnik V is reportedly working with AstraZeneca on a joint clinical trial to improve the efficacy of AstraZeneca jab.

The Russian vaccine uses a harmless cold-type virus to deliver a small fragment of the coronavirus in the human body. Such a safe exposure allows the body to recognise the threat and develop a defense mechanism with minimal ris of falling ill.

The second dose is given 21 days after the first jab and slightly different versions of the vaccine are used for the two doses. “The idea is that using two different formulas boosts the immune system even more than using the same version twice – and may give longer-lasting protection,” BBC said in a report.

The trial has revealed to serious side effect of the vaccine so arm, barring few regular and mild symptoms like a sore arm, tiredness and a bit of a temperature. Russia, Belarus, Argentina, Bolivia, Serbia, Algeria, Palestine, Venezuela, Paraguay, Turkmenistan, Hungary, UAE, Iran, Republic of Guinea, Tunisia, Armenia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Republika Srpska (entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina), Lebanon, Myanmar, Pakistan, Mongolia, Bahrain, Montenegro, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Gabon, San-Marino, Ghana, Syria, Kyrgyzstan, Guyana, Egypt, Honduras, Guatemala, Moldova, Slovakia, Angola, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Sri Lanka, Laos, Iraq, North Macedonia, Kenya, Morocco, Jordan, Namibia, Azerbaijan, Philippines, Cameroon, Seychelles, Mauritius, Vietnam, Antigua and Barbuda and Mali are some places where Sputnik V has received a green signal for usage to control the virus spread.

Amid India’s spiralling covid-19 situation, scientists have pointed at the need to boost supplies. One the top scientists, Shahid Jameel noted India has the capacity to inoculate with 10 million doses of Covishield vaccine per month and three million Covaxin doses per month. Supply can also be boosted by giving emergency use approval to Johnson & Johnson vaccine and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Both of these have received approvals in other countries and have manufacturing partners in India, he said in an interview to PTI.

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