Even as India expands its inoculation drive to include all adults, it's COVID-19 vaccine options are set to increase. The first consignment of world's first vaccine, Russia's Sputnik V is expected to arrive in Hyderabad ton May 1. Developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute and touted as the world's first COVID-19 vaccine, it is also the third jab to get emergency use approval in India.
While no official details have been received as to how many doses will be there in this tranche, news agency ANI cited diplomatic sources to say that India expects to receive 150,000 to 200,000 ready-made vaccines to be available very quickly in the early part of May. Reportedly, another 3 million doses are expected by the end of the month.
India is expected to receive 5 million doses of the vaccine by June. In April, Russian Direct Investment Fund CEO Kirill Dmitriev had confirmed that the first batch would arrive on May 1 and said that he expected over 50 million doses of the vaccine to be manufactured in India over the next few months. Earlier reports had indicated that five pharmaceutical companies in India have been roped in to produce a projected 850 million doses annually.
Sputnik V should be administered in two doses of 0.5 ml each with an interval of 21 days. According to the guidelines, the vaccine is indicated for active immunisation to prevent Covid-19 in individuals over 18 years of age and it needs to be stored at a temperature of minus 18-degree Celsius in liquid form. However, it can be stored at 2-8-degree Celsius in its freeze-dried form in a conventional refrigerator, making it easier to transport and store.
Sputnik V has demonstrated an efficacy rate of 91.6 per cent in the interim analysis of phase 3 clinical trial, which included data on 19,866 volunteers in Russia. The manufacturers insist that the vaccine provides full protection against severe cases of COVID-19 and that there are no strong allergies caused by Sputnik V.
Earlier today, people between the ages of 18 and 44 began lining up for the first time outside COVID-19 vaccination centres in various parts of India. But even as India's inoculation efforts expanded, many hospitals and state governments have flagged shortages. In Mumbai for example, the BMC is conducting the inoculation drive at only five centres, having issued an advisory that only those who receive messages will be getting the jab. The arrival of a third vaccine will in turn give fresh impetus to the inoculation efforts.
(With inputs from agencies)