India will receive a total of 250 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V over the next 8-10 months and its production here is expected to begin from July, a top executive at Dr Reddy’s, the local partner for the vaccine against Covid-19, said on Friday.
The vaccine by Russia’s Gamaleya Institute is priced at Rs 948; its retail price of Sputnik V will be Rs 995.40 a dose with 5% GST.
“The price which has been announced is Rs 948 plus GST for the imported dosages. Once we have the India-manufactured product available, the pricing for the vaccine will be different. We do not have a figure currently. We are working out the best possible ways to minimise the number so that it is accessible to as many Indians as possible,” Deepak Sapra, CEO, API & Services at Dr Reddy’s, told CNN-News18 in an exclusive interview.
Dr Reddy’s Laboratories soft-launched Sputnik V in India on Friday with imported doses, as Sapra took the first shot in Hyderabad.
Asked if the price of the vaccine will be different for the Centre and states — and what the price for private hospitals will be — Sapra said, “That is a discussion we are going to have. We are going to take guidance of the various stakeholders involved, including the government and the Niti Aayog. And based on that, we will be determining what is the best possible way to maximise access.”
Replying to a question on Sputnik V’s efficacy against variants of Sars-Cov-2 (the virus the causes Covid-19), he said, “Sputnik V has been tested on some of the variants. The variant on which we have received the data from our Russian partner is the UK variant. Testing is underway on the South African variant.”
“Now we have two large categories of variants — the double variant which has been found in India and the triple mutant. In addition to the efforts being taken by our Russian partner, we are working very closely with the department of biotechnology and also the National Institute of Virology to test Sputnik V on the variants. All of this testing is at different stages. We expect that by the end of May or early June, we will have credible data from Sputnik on these variants in addition to the data we already have,” he said.
A new Lancet report has raised questions over the interim results of the Phase III trials of Sputnik V. Addressing the concerns raised, Sapra said: “After the Lancet journal published those observations, they were studied, and our partner, the Gamaleya Institute of Epidemiology in Russia, has come up with the response to those.”
Assuring that the vaccine is safe and effective, he said, “We have clinical data on subjects in India which was very consistent with what was reported by our Russian partners in Lancet. We also have real world data on several million subjects all over the world, which has also demonstrated a very high level of consistency with what was originally reported. So, we feel comfortable that it is a safe, secure, immunogenic and efficacious vaccine."
The first consignment of imported doses of the Sputnik V vaccine from Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) landed in India on May 1 after regulatory clearance from the Central Drugs Laboratory.
RDIF has tie-ups with six Indian drug firms to manufacture the vaccine. Two other vaccines — Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute’s Covishield — currently used in the vaccination programme across the country are priced at Rs 1,200 and Rs 600 per dose, respectively, at private hospitals.
“Local manufacturing is expected to give us the vaccine for commercial usage from July time frame.. after that it will steadily ramp up over the next few months," Sapra said.
He said the company would initially be looking tentatively at 35 cities, where cold chain facilities are available for launching the product and expand based on the infrastructure. Sputnik V needs to be stored at -18 degrees centigrade, Sapra said.
On another vaccine, Sputnik Light from RDIF, Sapra said the Russian organisation had submitted to Dr Reddy’s the interim results of the single-dose vaccine’s trials — which are being studied. As soon as the vaccine completes the 42-day trial, Dr Reddy’s would approach the Indian regulators for necessary approvals.