2 min read.Updated: 18 May 2021, 01:37 AM ISTLeroy Leo
Till domestic production begins in July, Dr Reddy's will be supplying the Sputnik V vaccine only to major private hospitals in some cities, starting with Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam
NEW DELHI :
The wait for India’s third covid-19 vaccine may get longer as Dr Reddy’s Laboratories plans to supply Sputnik V to the government only when local production begins around July, an official from the Hyderabad-based drugmaker said on Monday.
“The 50% allocation to government’s demand happens once the domestic manufacturing by Indian companies starts. For the imported product, at the moment, it is our intent to serve as wide a population as possible," Sauri Gudlavalleti, Dr Reddy’s head of integrated product development organization, told reporters on Monday.
Besides supplies to the central government, even distribution across the country in major cities is likely to take about two months as the company progressively looks at conducting pilot tests for cold storage, Gudlavalleti said.
Sputnik V vaccine involves two doses of different formulations given three weeks apart and requires to be stored at -18 degree Celsius, which is more challenging than the 2 to 8 degree Celsius required to store Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech International’s Covaxin.
Till domestic production begins, the company, which is the exclusive distributor of the jab in India, will be supplying only to major private hospitals in some cities, starting with Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam, Gudlavalleti said.
The comments come at a time when India is facing an acute shortage of vaccines as the production of Covishield and Covaxin is not able to meet the demand.
Dr Reddy’s on Monday started vaccination with it in Hyderabad in association with Apollo Hospital Enterprises.
The drugmaker and the hospital chain on Monday announced they have kicked off the first phase of vaccinations with Sputnik V in Hyderabad and will start in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday.
Soon, the pilot programme will be extended to Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Pune, Apollo Hospitals said.
Dr Reddy’s last year signed a partnership with Russian Direct Investment Fund, the vaccine’s global commercializing partner, under which the Indian firm will conduct clinical trials and, after regulatory authorization, distribute 250 million doses of Sputnik V.
Having completed its trial and gotten authorization last month, the company imported 150,000 doses of the first dose formulation on 1 May and then another 60,000 doses as part of the booster shot on Sunday. The remaining 90,000 doses for the booster shot is expected in the coming weeks.
About 15-20% of that 250 million doses will be imported from Russia, primarily to make up for the lack of domestic production initially, Dr Reddy’s said last week, adding that 36 million is expected in the next two months.
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