The second shipment of Russia's COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V arrived in India on Sunday morning, May 16. Sputnik is among the three coronavirus vaccines approved in India, along with two other inoculations - Covishield of Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin of Bharat Biotech.
It is also the first foreign-made vaccine to be permitted for use in India. As the second consignment landed in Hyderabad, Telangana, Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev said the Russia-India fight against coronavirus is an example of the special and exclusive strategic partnership between the two countries and an effectual model of international anti-pandemic cooperation.
Telangana: Second consignment of Sputnik V arrives in Hyderabad pic.twitter.com/eEWWhd85YK— ANI (@ANI) May 16, 2021
"We are very happy to see that the Russian-Indian joint fight against the COVID-19, which is one of the vital areas of our bilateral cooperation nowadays, has firmly stood on rails and moving forward," the Russian envoy stated.
Vaccination with Sputnik V started in Hyderabad on May 14. Drug firm Dr Reddy's Laboratories launched the vaccine in the Indian market with the first dose being administered as part of a limited pilot.
The company said the imported doses of the vaccine are presently priced at a maximum retail price of Rs 948, with 5 per cent GST per dose, amounting to Rs 995.4 per dose. The first consignment of imported doses of the Sputnik V vaccine landed in India on May 1.
Ambassador Kudashev further stated that life-saving humanitarian assistance supplied last month by Russia is being successfully used to help Indians to beat the consequences of COVID-19.
"That is indeed a brilliant example of the special and privileged strategic partnership and an effective model of international anti-pandemic cooperation that does not know any unnecessary obstacles," he said.
Kudashev termed the delivery of the second consignment of Sputnik V vaccine in India "very timely" following the recent launch of the Russian inoculation in the Indian vaccination programme.
"The efficacy of Sputnik V is well-known in the world. Back in Russia, it is being successfully used to vaccinate citizens starting since the second half of 2020. Russian specialists declared that it is also effective against the new strains of COVID-19," he stated.
Regarding the issue of production capacity, Kudashev said, "We expect that it's production in India will be gradually increased 850 million doses per year. Looking forward to further expanding our bilateral and multilateral cooperation with India to stop the pandemic."
The Russian envoy also disclosed that plans are afoot to introduce Sputnik Lite, a single-dose vaccine, soon in India.
Dr Reddy's is working closely with its six manufacturing partners in India to fulfill regulatory requirements to ensure smooth and timely supply, the company said.
The Hyderabad-based firm said it will work closely with stakeholders in the government and private sector in India to ensure the widest possible reach of the Sputnik V vaccine as part of the national inoculation effort.
"With the rising cases in India, vaccination is our most effective tool in our battle against COVID-19. Contributing to the vaccination drive in India is our biggest priority right now to help Indians be healthy and safe," Dr Reddy's Co-Chairman and MD G V Prasad said.
Dr Reddy's had received permission from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to import the Sputnik vaccine into India for restricted use in emergency situations in April.
The company had partnered with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to conduct the clinical trials of Sputnik V and distribute the vaccine in India in September 2020. Sputnik V uses two different vectors for the two shots in a course of vaccination. Its efficacy was determined to be 91.6 per cent as per a published article in the medical journal Lancet.