Sputnik, the indigenously produced Covid vaccine in Russia will soon become the third Covid vaccine to be made available for free at government-run vaccination sites in the country, Dr N K Arora, chairperson of the Centre’s Covid-19 working group told TOI.
Sputnik is currently available only in the private sector but depending upon its supply it will soon be offered a free vaccination programme, the doctor added.
The first foreign-made Covid vaccine to be introduced in India was soft-launched in Hyderabad in the month of May at a maximum retail price of Rs 995.40 per dose, inclusive of GST.
Sputnik V requires a storage temperature of -18°C, Arora said adding that cold chain facilities preserving polio vaccines would be used to store Sputnik V, a plan that will also ensure it reaches the country’s rural areas.
Besides scaling up the production of Covaxin and Covishield, the addition of Sputnik V and the impending rollout of Moderna and Zydus Cadila’s new shot is expected to boost daily coverage from 50 lakh a day to 80 lakh and even 1 crore in the coming weeks.
Arora told TOI that more than 34 crore Covid vaccine doses had been administered so far, and another 12 to 16 crore should be administered by July-end. The target is to cover everyone over 18 by the end of this year.
Arora also added that some regions may have seen a slowdown in Covid vaccination due to the ongoing polio drive. “The Covid vaccination programme will be streamlined within the coming week,” he said.
It might be too early to link the new Delta-plus variant to a possible third wave. India has reported 52 Covid cases involving the variant. However, whether it will lead to a third wave will depend on the adoption of Covid-appropriate behaviour, ramping up of vaccination drive and testing and tracking in districts.