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India’s envoy in Moscow takes Sputnik V shot to back Russian vaccine

India’s Ambassador to Moscow Bala Venkatesh Varma has taken a shot of the Sputnik V vaccine, marking a strong endorsement of the product (Credit: BioWorld)

India’s Ambassador to Moscow Bala Venkatesh Varma has taken a shot of the Sputnik V vaccine, marking a strong endorsement of the product that is likely to be cleared in the coming weeks for use in India.

"I am very happy to tell you that I have already taken the first shot of the Sputnik V vaccine, last week. I feel very well, there are no side effects. Many of my colleagues also have taken the vaccine and many are going to do so," the Indian ambassador was quoted as saying in a TASS news agency report from Moscow.

On January 18, Italian Ambassador to Moscow Pasquale Terracciano said he had received Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus jab and had not suffered any side effects, the report said.

Indian pharma giant Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) are currently carrying out III clinical trials for Sputnik V vaccine in India which will be completed in the coming weeks. As many as 40,000 participants are enrolled in the Phase III trial of the Russian vaccine.

According to Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF)“India will produce about 300 million doses or more of the vaccine for us in 2021.”

Apart from Dr Reddy’s Labs, India’s Hetero Biopharma has also announced a deal with the RDIF to make more than 100 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine against the novel coronavirus. India is the world’s biggest vaccine maker and its pharmaceutical industry is freeing up capacity and accelerating investments ahead of the global rush for Covid-19 shots.

According to a recent interim analysis of trial data, the Sputnik V vaccine demonstrated 91.4% efficacy on day 28 after the first dose and vaccine efficacy was over 95% 42 days after the first dose. It is the first registered vaccine against Covid-19 created on a human adenoviral vector platform.

‘Sputnik V’ will cost less than USD 10 (about Rs. 730) per shot in India and the price is the same for all countries, according to Dmitriev.

He said this price is half to one-third of other vaccines that have the efficacy of more than 90 per cent. Sputnik also has an advantage in that it can be delivered in a 2 to 8 degrees Celsius logistics supply chain. Western vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna require to be stored at -80 degrees Celsius.

He also said developers of the Sputnik V vaccine are working collaboratively with AstraZeneca on a joint clinical trial to improve the efficacy of AstraZeneca vaccine.

Dmitriev said safety, efficacy and lack of negative long-term effects of adenoviral vaccines have been proven by more than 250 clinical studies over two decades.

“Over 1.5 million people have already been vaccinated with Sputnik V and there are no strong allergies caused,” he added.