The developers of Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine and Panacea Biotec announced on Monday that full-scale production of the doses in India will start this summer.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) or Russia's sovereign wealth fund has tied up with Indian pharmaceutical firms such as Gland Pharma, Hetero Biopharma, Panacea Biotec, Stelis Biopharma and Virchow Biotech to manufacture more than 850 million doses a year. Sputnik V has been granted approval for emergency use by India's drug controller.
"The first batch produced at Panacea Biotec's facilities at Baddi will be shipped to the Gamaleya Center [in Russia] for quality control. Full-scale production of the vaccine is due to start this summer. Company's facilities comply with GMP [good manufacturing practice] standards and are prequalified by WHO," RDIF said in a statement.
Sputnik V was registered in India under the emergency use authorisation procedure on 12 April and use of the Russian vaccine started on 14 May.
RDIF and Panacea Biotec have agreed to produce 100 million doses a year of Sputnik V.
RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev said: "Launch of production in India in partnership with Panacea Biotec marks an important step in helping the country fight the pandemic. Production of Sputnik V supports efforts of India's authorities to leave behind the acute phase of Coronavirus as soon as possible while the vaccine will also be exported at a later stage to help prevent the spread of the virus in other countries around the world."
Rajesh Jain, managing director of Panacea Biotec, said: "This marks a significant step as we initiate production of Sputnik V. Together with RDIF, we hope to help bring a sense of normalcy back to people across the country and around the world."
The Russian side has also announced plans to ship 18 million doses of Sputnik V to India, including three million doses in May, five million doses in June and 10 million in July. However, some questions have arisen about the Russian side's ability to meet these commitments due to the production facilities in Russia being stretched by demands from around the world.
Dr Reddy's Laboratories has tied up with RDIF for the distribution of Sputnik V in India, including both made-in-Russia doses and locally manufactured shots.
Sputnik V has so far been registered in 66 countries with a total population of more than 3.2 billion. RDIF and Gamaleya Center have said the efficacy of Sputnik V is 97.6%, based on analysis of data on coronavirus infection rate among those vaccinated in Russia with both doses of Sputnik V from 5 December, 2020 to 31 March, 2021.
The vaccine is based on the platform of human adenoviral vectors and uses two different vectors for the two doses, which RDIF says provides immunity "with a longer duration than vaccines using the same delivery mechanism for both shots".