The Centre on Thursday said it was 'hopeful' that Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V will be available in the market from next week.
The announcement has come at a crucial time as several states are faced with a shortage of vaccines.
"Sputnik V vaccine has arrived in India. I'm happy to say that we're hopeful that it'll be available in the market next week. We're hopeful that the sale of the limited supply that has come from there (Russia), will begin next week," Dr VK Paul was quoted as saying in several media reports.
"Further supply will also follow. Its production will begin in July and it is estimated that 15.6 crore doses will be manufactured in that period," Dr Paul was quoted as saying.
The announcement comes even as several states in India are facing a shortage of vaccines. Maharashtra and Karnataka have already suspended vaccination for the age group of 18-44 years due to a paucity of jabs.
On Thursday, the Delhi government wrote to the Serum Institute of India (SII) asking it to "come to its rescue" after Bharat Biotech said it cannot supply more doses of Covaxin, saying it has limited stock of Covishield for 18 to 44 years which will finish in one week.
To this, the SII said they are doing their best to meet countrywide vaccine requirements, official sources said.
Several state governments including Maharashtra, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, among others have flotated independent international tenders to procure vaccines.
Meanwhile, the government of Punjab decided to join the global COVAX alliance for sourcing the immunisation shots at the best price. By doing so, Punjab will become the first state in the country to take the initiative of addressing the vaccine shortage amid the deadly second wave of the pandemic, read a government statement, as per PTI.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Uttarakhand government announced that it will import 20 lakh doses of Sputnik vaccine over the next two months.
"We will get 8 lakh doses this month and 9 lakh doses next on the condition that the second dose is administered to people who have already got the first dose," state Chief Secretary Om Prakash said, adding that a five-member committee has been constituted for the purpose and the required funds have been arranged.
Faced with a shortage of vaccine, the Centre on Thursday approved extending the gap between the two doses of the Covishield vaccine from 6-8 weeks to 12-16 weeks following a recommendation from a government panel.
"Based on the available real-life evidences, particularly from the UK, the COVID-19 Working Group agreed for increasing the dosing interval to 12-16 weeks between two doses of Covishield vaccine. No change in interval of Covaxin vaccine doses was recommended," the ministry said.
With inputs from agencies