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The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) on Tuesday said it will export the first batch of Sputnik V vaccine to India from 1 May, the day India expands its covid-19 immunization drive to cover all adults.

“The first doses will be delivered on 1 May," RDIF chief executive officer Kirill Dmitriev said.

However, a spokesperson for the company’s partner in India, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd, said it is not providing a specific date for the launch, adding that while the company had earlier indicated that delivery will start from the end of May, that timeline has now been shifted to anytime in May.

“Discussions over pricing and the number of doses are still ongoing between Dr Reddy’s, RDIF and the government," the spokesperson said.

RDIF had last year said that the company will price the vaccine at less than $10 ( 750) per dose in international markets. Pricing of the vaccine varies in different countries.

Dr Reddy’s management has earlier said that the initial quantity of vaccine that will be supplied in India will be limited as they will primarily be imported from Russia. However, RDIF’s manufacturing partners in India will start producing the jabs locally by July, after which the supplies will be scaled up.

RDIF is in partnership with six companies in India—Hetero Biopharma, Gland Pharma, Stelis Biopharma, Panacea Biotec, Virchow Biotech and Shilpa Medicare—to collectively contract-manufacture more than 850 million doses of Sputnik V here.

Dr Reddy’s pact with RDIF is for supply of 250 million doses in India, enough for 125 million people.

Supply of the vaccine is crucial for meeting the increased demand when vaccination will be opened up for adults from Saturday. Currently, only the high-priority groups—healthcare workers, frontline workers and people above the age of 45 years—are eligible to get vaccines, but when phase 3 of vaccination starts on Saturday, all adults will become eligible.

Currently, Serum Institute of India is manufacturing 60-70 doses of Covishield per month, while Bharat Biotech’s current capacity is 10 million doses per month. In contrast, over 80 million doses have already been administered in April so far. With four days of vaccination still remaining, this indicates earlier inventories are drying up, and there may be a shortage already.

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