A consignment of Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine is on its way to Hyderabad from Moscow with the first batch of 150,000 doses set to arrive later on Saturday with another three million doses scheduled to land this month.
According to diplomats based in Moscow and New Delhi, the flight carrying 150,000 doses of the preventive vaccine left Russian shores this morning and will be handed over to Dr Reddy's Laboratories. Before the doses are handed over for vaccination, the Indian partner of the Russian vaccine will seek mandatory approval from the Central Drugs Laboratory, Kasauli.
Sputnik V is based on human adenoviral vectors, is one of three vaccines (other two are Pfizer and Moderna) that have an efficacy of over 90 per cent against the coronavirus disease, which is caused by SARS-CoV-2. It was given regulatory approval or restricted use authorisation in India on April 12. The two-dose vaccine, which has to be administered 21 days apart, has been developed by the Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology and is supported by the Russian sovereign wealth fund, Russian Direct Investment Fund or RDIF.
According to officials, some five million "filled and finished" bottles of Sputnik V will arrive in a container from Russia in June and some 10 million-plus vaccines in July. New Delhi has asked Moscow for the ramped-up supply of the vaccine as it wants to vaccinate as many Indians as possible in the shortest time.
The Sputnik V vaccine delivery started after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a long conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 28. The diplomats based in Moscow say that the conversation was "very warm" between the two leaders with Russia standing with India in this hour of national crisis.