Russia's sovereign wealth fund, Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), and Indian pharmaceutical company Morepen Laboratories on Tuesday said they have produced the first test batch of Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V at the latter's facility in Himachal.
The first batch of Sputnik V will be shipped to the Gamaleya Centre for quality control. RDIF and Morepen Laboratories had signed an agreement in June, and are actively implementing the technology transfer for production of Sputnik V.
Sputnik V is yet to be commercially available in India in view of the delays in import of consignments. Launched in the country as a pilot on May 14, Sputnik V was expected to be rolled out in mid-June, which has now been pushed back by another two-three weeks.
The Russian vaccine got emergency use approval in India on April 12. Besides Morepen, RDIF has also signed pacts with Gland Pharma, Hetero Biopharma, Panacea Biotec, Stelis Biopharma and Virchow Biotech. With these partnerships, Sputnik V plans to produce over 850 million Sputnik V doses per year.
Around 3 million doses of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in India, while the consignment for second dose is likely to land by the end of this month. The first 50 million jabs are likely to be imported from Russia to ensure a speedier rollout before Indian pharma companies start producing Sputnik V.
The vaccine has been registered in 67 countries globally. RDIF says data obtained by regulators of countries like Argentina, Serbia, Bahrain, Hungary, and Mexico suggest Sputnik V is one of the "safest and most effective vaccines" against coronavirus.
The vaccine is based on human adenoviral vectors platform and uses two different vectors for the two shots in a course of vaccination.
"As the pandemic is yet far from over and new, more dangerous variants of coronavirus are being detected in various regions of the world, RDIF is increasing capacities for production of Sputnik V in India, one of the key hubs. Agreement with Morepen Laboratories provides for a larger amount of Sputnik V to be available both for India and our partners globally to speed up the vaccination with one of the best vaccines in the world," Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, said.
Sushil Suri, Morepen Chairman & Managing Director, said: "We take this partnership as starting point for long term relationship with RDIF and its partner companies as we look forward for many more areas of common interest."
Morepen is a leading manufacturer of high-quality APIs, home diagnostics, formulations and OTC products in India.
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