India receives 1st consignment of 1.5 lakh Sputnik V vaccine doses from Russia

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New Delhi, May 1 (PTI) India on Saturday received the first consignment of 1.5 lakh doses of Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine from Russia as the country embarked on the third phase of the vaccination drive against the infection.

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) in a tweet said that the customs department cleared expeditiously the consignment of COVID-19 vaccines that landed in Hyderabad from Russia.

Pharma major Dr Reddy's Laboratories, which has entered into a partnership with Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) for clinical trials and supply of Sputnik V vaccine in India, said that the first consignment of 1.5 lakh doses of the Russian vaccine has landed in Hyderabad.

Subsequent consignments will arrive in the next few weeks, the Hyderabad-based company said.

'...the first consignment of 150,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine has landed in Hyderabad from Russia. The rollout of the consignment will be subject to the necessary clearances, which will be processed over the next few days,' Dr Reddy's Laboratories, API and Services CEO, Deepak Sapra said. This initial quantity will be used across different channels as a pilot to line up 'our supply chain for the larger vaccination programme rollout', he added.

Announcing the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country from Russia, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) in a tweet said: 'Hyderabad Customs, @cgstcushyd facilitated expeditious clearance of #SputnikV Vaccine imported from Russia.” Welcoming the development, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted: 'Appropriate timely response @cgstcushyd. Need of the hour.' The government last month allowed emergency use approval of the imported vaccines in India which have been granted emergency approval for restricted use by USFDA, EMA, UK MHRA, PMDA Japan or which are listed in WHO (Emergency Use Listing).

The government has also waived customs duty on their imports. It has also allowed citizens over the age of 18 years to receive Covid-19 vaccinations beginning May 1 under the third phase of vaccination drive.

The registration for the new eligible population groups had commenced on April 28. Many states, however, could not start the third phase of vaccination from Saturday due to supply shortages.

India, at present, is administering two COVID-19 vaccines. While the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine 'Covishield' is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the indigenously-developed Covaxin is being manufactured by Bharat Biotech.

The Union Health Ministry has said that more than 79 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses are available with the states and Union Territories and over 17 lakh doses will be supplied to them in the next three days.

The Centre has so far provided nearly 16.37 crore vaccine doses to states/UTs free of cost. Of this, the total consumption, including wastages, is 15,58,48,782 doses.

Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday visited a vaccination centre at Saraswati Vihar for the 'symbolic launch' of the drive to inoculate people aged 18 years and above against the viral disease.

'In one way, today is symbolic as the vaccination drive has started only at one centre from today onwards for those between 18-44 years. From May 3, the vaccination drive will begin on a large scale in Delhi,' Kejriwal said.

The central government has been at the forefront of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccination forms an integral component of the five-point strategy of the government to fight the pandemic, including test, track, treat and COVID appropriate behaviour.

India reported a record over 4.01 lakh new Covid infections and 3,523 deaths on Saturday. In August 2020, Russia became the world's first country to register a coronavirus vaccine, dubbed as Sputnik V. Following that, in September, Dr Reddy's Laboratories and Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) entered into a partnership to conduct clinical trials of Sputnik V, which is developed by the Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

Dr Reddy's Laboratories has already received approval from the Indian drug regulator for restricted emergency use of Sputnik V. PTI JD AKT MR MR