India’s third Covid-19 vaccine candidate, Sputnik V, was launched on Friday at a price of Rs 995 a dose (inclusive of taxes) for the imported version. The India-made version of the vaccine, expected in the next few months, may cost lower, said Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), the Indian partner of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is marketing Sputnik V globally.
The two-dose vaccine, given 21 days apart, has an efficacy of 97.6 per cent, according to RDIF and the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, which has developed the vaccine.
A single-dose regimen of the vaccine, called Sputnik Light, is also expected to be available in India soon, according to sources in the industry. DRL will seek the Indian regulator’s nod next month to allow the single-dose vaccine, already approved in Russia, in India, said the sources in the know.
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V K Paul, member (health), NITI Aayog, had said last week that if the claims of the vaccine developer about the single-dose vaccine were true, it could help double the speed of vaccination in India.
Paul had said India would go through the data and immunogenicity. DRL did not comment on the matter. RDIF did not respond to emailed queries till the time of going to press. The first consignment of imported doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, which landed in India on May 1, received regulatory clearance from the Central Drugs Laboratory, Kasauli, on May 13.
“As part of a limited pilot, the soft launch of the vaccine has commenced and the first dose of the vaccine was administered in Hyderabad today (Friday). Further consignments of imported doses are expected over the upcoming months.
Subsequently, the supply of Sputnik V will commence from Indian manufacturing partners,” DRL said. The imported doses of the vaccine are presently priced at a maximum retail price of Rs 948 plus 5 per cent goods and service tax (GST) per dose, with the possibility of a lower price point when local supply begins, DRL said.
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Sputnik V was approved for use in India on April 12, 2021, and granted emergency use authorisation. India is the leading production hub for Sputnik V.
“RDIF has reached agreements with leading pharmaceutical companies in the country (Gland Pharma, Hetero Biopharma, Panacea Biotec, Stelis Biopharma, Virchow Biotech), aimed at production of more than 850 million doses per year,” RDIF said. Around 250 million doses are planned for India at the moment.
The Gamaleya Research Institute made Sputnik V using two different human adenovirus vectors (Ad26 and Ad5) in its two doses. Sputnik V is a heterogenous vaccine, using two different virus strains or antigens in its two doses. The first dose uses human adenovirus (a common flu virus) type 26 (Ad26), which is the same as that used by Johnson Johnson (JJ) in its single shot vaccine.
The second shot of the vaccine uses adenovirus type 5 (Ad5). In order to differentiate between the two doses — primer and booster — the colours of the vaccine will be different. By deploying two different vectors, Sputnik V avoids a possible neutralising effect and generates a durable and longer-lasting immune response, claimed RDIF.
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