The Union ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) announced on Thursday that Sputnik V, the vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) developed by Russia’s Gamaleya National Center, will be available in markets across the country from early next week.
Making the announcement at the health ministry’s press briefing on the Covid-19 situation in the country, Dr VK Paul, member, NITI Aayog, further said the local production of Sputnik V, often called the world’s first vaccine against the viral disease, will begin in July. Hyderabad-based Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories will manufacture the vaccine in India.
Sputnik V was given emergency use authorisation (EUA) by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) in April, amid an alarming rise in the country’s fresh Covid-19 infections. It will be the third vaccine, shots of which will be administered in India. The other two shots are Covishield and Covaxin. Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) is manufacturing the Oxford University-AstraZeneca shot as “Covishield” while Bharat Biotech International Limited, also located in Hyderabad, has developed Covaxin.
The Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine was first approved in Russia on August 11 last year. With an efficacy of 91.6%, as published in the Lancet Medical Journal, the vaccine has been cleared and approved for mass use in more than 50 countries. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has signed a deal to produce 750 million doses of Sputnik V in India.
India’s vaccination drive against Covid-19 began on January 16, two weeks after the DCGI announced clearance for both Covishield and Covaxin. Currently, the third phase of the nationwide vaccination drive is underway as every citizen above the age of 18 became eligible for a jab starting May 1. According to the health ministry’s dashboard on Thursday morning, 177,214,256 vaccine doses have been administered across the country thus far, including 1,894,991 in the preceding 24 hours.