India on Monday approved a third COVID-19 vaccine for emergency usage, becoming the 60th nation to authorise the use of the Russia's Sputnik V. Touted as the world's first COVID-19 vaccine, it has been registered in India under the emergency use authorization procedure based on results of clinical trials in Russia as well as positive data of additional Phase III local clinical trials. Developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, it is an adenovirus viral vector vaccine.
"The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF, Russia's sovereign wealth fund) announces that Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved the use of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus in the country. India has become the 60th country to approve Sputnik V," the RDIF said in a statement. In India, the trials have been conducted in partnership with Dr. Reddy's Laboratories.
Data published in medical journal The Lancet indicates that the Russian vaccine has efficacy of 91.6%. Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the RDIF cited the data to note in a statement that the vaccine "provides full protection against severe cases of COVID-19".
Incidentally, Sputnik V is one of only three vaccines in the world with an efficacy of over 90%. .
While earlier reports had quoted top government sources to say that Sputnik V was "expected to be available latest by June", the timeline appears to be moving up. In an interview with CNBC-TV18, Dmitriev told the publication that roll out was slated to begin at the end of April or early in May.
An while cost details are not yet available, the vaccine will be priced at a lower rate for the Indian government. Reportedly, the vaccine will be subject to India's price controls for domestic sales, and export prices are likely to be higher. A press note from the makers also notes that the jab is affordable and costs less than $10.
Sputnik V ranks second among coronavirus vaccines globally in terms of the number of approvals issued by government regulators. The vaccine has also been approved in Russia, Belarus, Argentina, Bolivia, Serbia, Algeria, Palestine, Venezuela, Paraguay, Turkmenistan, Hungary, UAE, Iran, Republic of Guinea, Tunisia, Armenia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Republika Srpska (entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina), Lebanon, Myanmar, Pakistan, Mongolia, Bahrain, Montenegro, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Gabon, San-Marino, Ghana, Syria, Kyrgyzstan, Guyana, Egypt, Honduras, Guatemala, Moldova, Slovakia, Angola, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Sri Lanka, Laos, Iraq, North Macedonia, Kenya, Morocco, Jordan, Namibia, Azerbaijan, Philippines, Cameroon, Seychelles, Mauritius, Vietnam, Antigua and Barbuda, Mali and Panama.