The Indian government is likely to approve five more Covid-19 vaccines soon with Russia’s Sputnik V heading the list, to meet the acute shortage of shots worldwide.
News agency ANI on Saturday quoted a senior Indian official as saying that Sputnik V may even be cleared within the next 10 days. But at the same time the report also stated that the vaccine would be cleared at the latest by June this year.
"Sputnik is expected to be available latest by June, if all goes well Johnson and Johnson ( Bio E) will be available by August, Cadila Zydus will also be available by August, Novavax by September and Nasal Vaccine by Bharat Biotech by October," the ANI report cited the official as saying.
Cadila Zydus and Bharat Biotech are the two new indigenous vaccines in the pipeline.
India presently has two approved vaccines in use, one developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca that is being produced by the Serum Institute of India and the other, a homegrown shot developed by the Indian Council of Medical Research and Hyderabad-based private company Bharat Biotech.
The issue of expediting approvals for the production and distribution of the Sputnik V vaccine had figured at the talks between India’s foreign minister S. Jaishankar and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Delhi on April 6..
India is poised to become a major hub for producing the Sputnik V vaccine with five Indian companies having signed agreements for the production of the vaccine. The total capapcity works out to around 950 million doses a year.
Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy's Laboratories was the first Indian company to tie-up for the production and distribution of Sputnik V and has completed the third stage trials. It is expected to be the first company to get approval.
Panacea Biotec was the fifth Indian company in the run-up to the Russian foreign minister’s visit to sign an agreement for producing 100 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine. Three other Indian companies have signed agreements in recent weeks to roll out the vaccine. These include Virchow Biotech and Stelis Biopharma for 200 million doses each and for Gland Pharma for the manufacture of 252 million shots annually.
Similarly, Novavax and Johson & Johnson are two other vaccines that are on the fast track and have the backing of the Indo-Pacific Quad agreement for production in India. J&J has a deal with Indian firm Biological E Ltd to contract-manufacture its vaccine while Novavax has an agreement with Serum Institute of India.