Vaccine news from India: Sputnik V approved, here’s all you need to know

With Sputnik V's approval and the Union government fast-tracking approval for global vaccines, India’s vaccination drive is set to witness a major expansion.
A health worker in Bengaluru uses a syringe to draw from a vial of COVID-19 vaccine
A health worker in Bengaluru uses a syringe to draw from a vial of COVID-19 vaccine

India got its third COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday and is on the path for several other vaccines to be made available in the country, the Union government announced. This could potentially signal a major expansion in India’s vaccination drive, even as COVID-19 cases surge  at an alarming rate throughout the country.  

Here are the main COVID-19 vaccine updates from Tuesday.

Sputnik V approved:  The Russian vaccine Sputnik V has been granted permission for restricted use in emergency situations. Pharma major Dr Reddy's has partnered with the Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to bring the Sputnik V vaccine to India. Virchow Biotech Private Limited, a Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical firm, and the RDIF had an agreement to manufacture up to 200 million doses per year of Sputnik V. Apart from these, Gland Pharma, Panacea Biotec, Stelis Biopharma, Hetero Biopharma have also entered into tieups to produce the vaccine doses in India. 

About Sputnik: Sputnik V has demonstrated an efficacy rate of 91.6% in the interim analysis of phase 3 clinical trial, which included data on 19,866 volunteers in Russia. The vaccine is meant to be administered to those above 18 years of age. The vaccine will be administered in two doses of 0.5 ml each with an interval of 21 days. (Day 0: Component I & Day 21: Component II). However, unlike other vaccines the two doses use two different formulas to boost the immune system, reports BBC. The vaccine has to be stored at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, which means it can be stored in refrigerators, making it easy for storage and transportation. Sputnik is approved for use in 60 countries across the world. The price of the vaccine is less than USD 10 per shot, RDIF has said. 

Globally-approved vaccines: Vaccines that have been granted emergency approval for restricted use in the United States, Europe, United Kingdom and Japan, or those listed under the World Health Organisation’s Emergency Use Listing may be given emergency use approval in India. The fast-track of approvals is meant to expand coverage and increase the pace of the country’s vaccine drive. 

VK Paul, NITI Aayog Member (Health) told the media on Tuesday that the precondition of clinical trial of these COVID-19 vaccines will not be applicable. But a bridging study (to see how vaccine responds in the Indian population) will continue post approval, and the data will be checked by the regulator. “We invite Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson to seek license for distribution in India,” he said.

On vaccine shortage: Union Health Ministry on Tuesday responded to the reports of vaccine shortages in many states. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told the media that 1.67 crore vaccine doses are available with states and UTs and that the problem is not of vaccine shortage, but of better planning. “The Union government has sent over 13.10 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses to states and UTs, out of which total consumption, including wastage, was 11.43 crore,” he said. “Big states are given four days’ worth of supply of vaccines in one batch, and on the fourth day, we send a new batch. For smaller states, this gap is 7-8 days. All states should manage their cold chain based on consumption patterns in each area or districts,” he added. 

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