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RDIF’s agreement with Dr. Reddy’s covers only distribution, but the fund said it will also look for an Indian manufacturing partner. Photo: Mint
RDIF’s agreement with Dr. Reddy’s covers only distribution, but the fund said it will also look for an Indian manufacturing partner. Photo: Mint

Dr Reddy’s ties up for Russian vaccine

The tie-up comes at a time India has become only the second country to cross the grim milestone of 5 mn cases after the US

NEW DELHI : Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said on Wednesday that it has tied up with Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd to conduct clinical trials of Sputnik V vaccine in India. Once the vaccine is approved by Indian regulators, Russia will supply 100 million doses, with deliveries beginning potentially as early as December.

“India is among the most severely impacted countries from covid-19, and we believe our human adenovirus dual vector platform will provide a safe and scientifically validated option to India in the battle against covid-19," RDIF chief executive officer Kirill Dmitriev said in a statement.

The tie-up comes at a time India became only the second country to cross the grim milestone of 5 million coronavirus cases after the US.

India is also reporting new virus cases at the fastest pace in the world.

To be sure, RDIF’s agreement with Dr. Reddy’s, unlike other foreign vaccine developers, covers only distribution, but the Russian sovereign fund said it will also look for an Indian manufacturing partner.

Foreign vaccine developers AstraZeneca Plc, Novavax and Johnson and Johnson’s arm Janssen Pharmaceuticals have already signed pacts with Indian companies to leverage the country’s manufacturing capacity, the biggest in the world.

AstraZeneca and Novavax are in pact with Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, with the Pune-based firm already conducting phase II and III clinical trials of Covishield, the vaccine candidate co-developed by AstraZeneca and University of Oxford.

Apart from these foreign vaccines, there are also vaccine candidates locally developed by Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech International, which are currently in parallel phase I and II trials.

Shares of Dr. Reddy’s Labs rose 4.24% to 4,631.55 on BSE, while the benchmark Sensex gained 0.66%.

Last week, NITI Aayog member (health) V.K. Paul said India is willing to facilitate a phase III trial for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, for which 2-4 Indian companies are in discussions for mass manufacturing.

The human adenovirus vector-based vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology with support from RDIF, has already received regulatory authorization in Russia. It is the world’s first covid-19 vaccine to be registered, though without completing phase III trials.

Post-registration clinical trials of the Sputnik V vaccine involving 40,000 volunteers are currently ongoing, the sovereign wealth fund said.

The first results of these trials are expected to be published in October or November.

Earlier this month, the Lancet published peer-reviewed results of phase I and II study of 76 patients, which showed that the vaccine was safe and provided immunity against the novel viral disease.

Bhavesh Gandhi, lead analyst, institutional equities at Yes Securities, said the opportunity provided by the Sputnik V vaccine can be large and result in a one-time revenue gain for Reddy’s Laboratories, if trials are successful, but also cautioned that there is no certainty on the trial outcome and, more importantly, pricing would be keenly watched by the government.

Ravindra Sonavane contributed to the story.

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