While many Indian candidates are surging ahead with their COVID-19 vaccine trial processes, Russian COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik-V that has been launched in Russia, may become the first official vaccine to launch in India. For this, GV Prasad-led Dr Reddy's Laboratories has signed a pact with Russia's sovereign wealth fund Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to manufacture around 10 crore vaccines in India.
Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy's Laboratories (Dr Reddy's) and Russia's RDIF now plan to roll out the vaccine in India as early as November. In an exclusive interview with India Today, GV Prasad said Russian vaccine Sputnik-V will be launched in India at the earliest. "We have signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Russian Development Investment Fund (RDIF). Hope to bring vaccine (Sputnik-V) to India as soon as possible," Prasad said.
Prasad said Dr Reddy's has partnered with RDIF, considering the signs (of the vaccine being effective) are good. "We are trying to get this in the shortest period of time," he added. Prasad also said the company had received approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to conduct trials.
He said Russian vaccine is the first official coronavirus vaccine in the world, and that others are also progressing towards finding the COVID-19 cure.
CEO of RDIF, Kirill Dmitriev said India will play a vital role in fighting Covid-19. He added the government's Make in India initiative has made the pharma sector strong in India.
On the controversy around safety concerns regarding the use of Sputnik V, Dmitriev said it's a clear example of negative propaganda by the western companies. "Our vaccine is based on human cells. Western vaccines have not been tested and competitors are trying to attack. Our vaccine is safe and much advanced," he added.
He said India could get the vaccine as soon as November, subject to the approval of regulatory authorities.
Notably, Sputnik V vaccine is undergoing final-stage clinical trials in Russia. It is also being tested in several other countries. "Deliveries could potentially begin in late 2020 subject to completion of successful trials and registration of the vaccine by regulatory authorities in India," a joint statement issued by RDIF and Dr Reddy's had earlier said.
Dr Reddy's, which is one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in India, has a well-established and respected presence in Russia for over 25 years.
On September 4, a research paper on the results of Phase I and Phase II clinical trials of the Sputnik-V vaccine was published in The Lancet, one of the leading international medical journals, demonstrating no serious adverse effects and a stable immune response in 100 per cent of participants.
Prasad said the Phase I and II results of Sputnik-V vaccine have shown promise, and Dr Reddy's will be conducting Phase-III trials in India to meet the requirements of the Indian regulators.