Coronavirus vaccination in India: After nearly four months of running a vaccination drive on two vaccines – Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin – India has now got the third vaccine, Russia’s Sputnik V that is being distributed by Dr Reddy’s Laboratories in India. The shot was launched by Dr Reddy’s on Friday, and now, it is the second most expensive jab available in the country at the moment, a report in IE has said.
The vaccine has been developed by Moscow-based Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, and like most vaccines, it also needs to be administered in two doses. It also uses a platform similar to Covishield to provide protection against coronavirus, but while Covishield uses a weakened form of common cold adenovirus that infects chimpanzees, Sputnik V makes use of two adenoviruses that affect humans. Moreover, as per The Lancet journal, Sputnik V has been found to provide an efficacy of more than 91%.
The first dose of the vaccine was administered in Hyderabad, after Sputnik V underwent several tests and received requisite approvals from the Central Drugs Laboratory, the report added.
Till now, Russia has sent only about 1.5 lakh doses of the vaccine to Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, but more vaccines are expected by the company soon. The agreements regarding the supply of Sputnik V are being managed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and as per its agreement with Dr Reddy’s, India is likely to get a minimum of 250 million or 25 crore doses, which would be enough to ensure that at least 12.5 crore people in the country are inoculated, the report added. Even so, the timeline for the supply of these vaccines to India is not yet known.
Moreover, in India, as per the agreements with several biotech companies, facilities to produce about 85 crore doses are also being established.
Currently, the vaccine is being imported at a price of Rs 948 a dose, and with a 5% GST, the cost of the vaccine for every dose comes to Rs 995.40. However, Dr Reddy’s has said that there were chances of the price of the vaccine going down after the commencement of local supplies, even as there is no information yet about when that would happen.
As compared to Sputnik V, Covishield is cheaper, being provided to states under a direct agreement at the price of Rs 300 per dose, while private hospitals are able to procure the vaccine at Rs 600 a dose. On the other hand, Covaxin is the most expensive vaccine in India till now, being provided to states at a cost of Rs 400 for one dose, and to private hospitals at Rs 1,200.