Domestic pharma major Panacea Biotec in collaboration with Russian sovereign wealth fund RDIF has begun the production of 'Sputnik V' COVID-19 vaccine in India, according to a joint statement issued on Monday. As announced in April, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) - which markets the vaccine internationally, and Panacea Biotec agreed to produce 100 million doses per year of Sputnik V in India.
The first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine produced at Panacea Biotec's facilities at Baddi in Himachal Pradesh will be shipped to Russia's Gamaleya Center for "quality control", the joint statement said. Full-scale production of the vaccine is expected to start this summer, the statement said, without disclosing the exact month in which the large-scale production would start. "Launch of production in India in partnership with Panacea Biotec marks an important step in helping the country fight the pandemic," RDIF chief executive officer Kirill Dmitriev said.
The 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, he added.
On the development, Panacea Biotec MD Rajesh Jain 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."
Sputnik V was registered in India under the emergency use authorisation procedure on April 12, 2021, and vaccination against coronavirus with the Russian vaccine started on May 14.
Domestic drug major Dr Reddy's Laboratories on May 14 had said that as part of a limited pilot, the soft launch of the Sputnik V vaccine has commenced and the first dose of the vaccine was administered in Hyderabad.
"Efficacy of Sputnik V is 97.6 per cent based on the analysis of data on coronavirus infection rate among those in Russia vaccinated with both components of Sputnik V from December 5, 2020 to March 31, 2021," the statement said. Till date, Sputnik V has been registered in 66 countries, it added.
The vaccine is based on a platform of human adenoviral vectors and "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", the statement said.
The Sputnik V vaccine can be stored in a conventional refrigerator without any need to invest in additional cold-chain infrastructure, it added.