Following the DCGI's (Drugs Controller General of India) approval of the emergency use authorisation of Russia's Sputnik V, Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) CEO Kirill Dmitriev said that the coronavirus vaccine's roll out in small quantities will likely begin as early as May 2021.
Dmitriev added that production on a larger scale will start by July 2021 with plans to produce 500 million doses.
He further stated that Sputnik V is safer than Moderna and Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines, adding that Mexican data has also shown "very less serious adverse events" for Russia's jab.
Regarding the pricing of Sputnik V, Dmitriev said, "we are in talks with the Indian government on the pricing of the vaccine for private and govt rollout - it will be more affordable than the existing vaccines of the world."
Meanwhile, the RDIF has said that India has become the 60th country to approve the use of Sputnik V against coronavirus and more than 850 million doses of the vaccine are going to be produced in the country annually.
The vaccine's approval by DCGI was based on results of clinical trials in Russia as well as positive data of additional Phase III local clinical trials in India conducted in partnership with Dr Reddy's Laboratories.
Sputnik V has been approved for use in countries with a total population of 3 billion people, or about 40 per cent of the global population, and India has become the 60th country to approve Sputnik V, RDIF, Russia's sovereign wealth fund, said in a statement.
India is the most populated country to register the vaccine and is also the leading production hub for Sputnik V, it added.
Dmitriev said the approval of the vaccine is a major milestone as both countries have been developing extensive cooperation on clinical trials of Sputnik V in India and its local production.
"The Russian vaccine has efficacy of 91.6 per cent and provides full protection against severe cases of COVID-19 as demonstrated by the data published in one of the leading medical journals -- The Lancet," he added.
Noting that India is a vaccine-manufacturing hub and a strategic partner for the production of Sputnik V, he said RDIF has created partnerships with a number of India's leading pharmaceutical companies for the production of Sputnik V, which will provide for both vaccination of the population in India and global distribution of the vaccine.
"Over 850 million doses of Sputnik V are going to be produced in India annually, sufficient to vaccinate more than 425 million people around the world," he said.
According to the release, RDIF has agreements with India's Gland Pharma, Hetero Biopharma, Panacea Biotec, Stelis Biopharma, and Virchow Biotech aimed at producing more than 850 million doses per year.
Sputnik will be the third vaccine to be used in India against coronavirus. In January, DCGI granted approval for emergency use authorisation of two COVID-19 vaccines -- Covaxin of Bharat Biotech and Covishield of Oxford-AstraZeneca manufactured by Serum Institute of India in Pune.
As per RDIF, Sputnik V has a number of key advantages, including that there are no strong allergies caused by Sputnik V.
The price of the vaccine is less than $10 per shot and it uses two different vectors for the two shots in a course of vaccination, providing immunity with a longer duration than vaccines using the same delivery mechanism for both shots, it added.
Other countries that have approved the use of Sputnik V include Argentina, Bolivia, Hungary, UAE, Iran, Mexico, Pakistan, Bahrain, and Sri Lanka.(With inputs from PTI.)