NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul informed on Thursday that the first batch of Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V has arrived in India and will likely be available in the market from next week onwards. He added that more doses will soon be arriving from Russia. Sputnik V is the third COVID-19 vaccine after SII's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin that has received emergency use authorisation from Indian drug regulators.
"I'm happy to say that we're hopeful that it'll be available in the market next week. We're hopeful that the sale of the limited supply that has come from there (Russia), will begin next week," Dr VK Paul stated in a press briefing.
Paul added the manufacturing of Sputnik V is scheduled to begin in India by July 2021. "Further supply will also follow. Its production will begin in July and it is estimated that 15.6 crore doses will be manufactured in that period," Paul told ANI.
Commenting on the Centre's move to increase the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, Paul stated that 216 crore doses will be produced in the country between August and December "for India and for Indians".
"There should be no doubt that vaccine will be available for all as we move forward... Any vaccine that is approved by FDA, WHO can come to India. Import licence will be granted within 1-2 days. No import licence is pending," the NITI Aayog member added.
Paul further noted that the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), along with other concerned departments have been in touch with Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson since the initial days of vaccine production.
"They were officially asked if they would like to send doses to or manufacture in India. We will find partners and assist. They had said that they are working in their own way and they would talk of vaccine availability in the third quarter ofd 2021. We are connected to them. I'm hopeful that they will step forward to increase availability in India. We invite them to manufacture here along with our companies. Johnson & Johnson did a good job. They accepted this offer under Quad," Paul said.
Paul stated that 18 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far in the country.
(Edited by Mohammad Haaris beg)