India to Rely on Imports for Now as Sputnik V Gets Expert Panel Nod, Price Negotiation on Cards

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Russia’s Sputnik V has received a green signal for emergency usage by expert panel in India. The move comes at a time when India faces double whammy of surge in cases and supply shortage of coronavirus jabs, manufactured by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech. 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.

However, for now the vaccines will be imported in India as the government will work on logistics of storage and transportation of jabs with Dr Reddy’s, sources have said. While some stocks are available with Dr Reddy’s for immediate use, the imports will be replaced with domestic production. The price negotiations will be done afresh with Sputnik V. The government is also considering options of absorbing the price gap to make Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine available at affordable prices. With domestic production, one dose of Sputnik V is expected to be priced under Rs 150.

Additionally, government sources have said that health workers will receive fresh training to administer Sputnik V vaccines.

The Russian vaccine is expected to aid India’s fight against coronavirus with its feasibility of storage and cost effectiveness. In liquid form, the vaccine needs to be stored at -18 degree celsius, while it also comes in powder form which can be stored in refrigerators and needs dilution in water before usage.

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.

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