Dr Reddy’s Laboratories to begin importing Sputnik V in April-June, price under discussion

As per Dr Reddy’s Laboratories’s contract with the Russian Direct Investment Fund, the Hyderabad-based company is expected to receive around 250 million doses of Spuntik V, Deepak Sapra, DRL CEO — API and Services — said Wednesday.

India can expect to receive doses of Sputnik V between April and June, as Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL) will begin importing the Covid-19 vaccine for use during this time. However, the final availability of the vaccine will depend on factors like how many doses the government wishes to procure as well as the cold chain system set up to distribute them in the country.

As per DRL’s contract with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the Hyderabad-based company is expected to receive around 250 million doses of Spuntik V, Deepak Sapra, DRL CEO — API and Services — said Wednesday. This would be sufficient for 125 million people, but the number of doses that DRL can procure for use in India can be extended upon “mutual consent” with RDIF.

While the company continues to engage in discussions with the government over the price and procurement of Sputnik V for use in India’s immunisation campaign, it will start importing this vaccine from Russia’s sovereign wealth fund “this quarter”, he said. Clarity over the number of doses that India will buy and the price at which they will be procured will emerge “in the next few weeks,” said Sapra.

The company has so far received restricted permission to supply the liquid form of this vaccine in an emergency situation, which means that it has had to make logistical arrangements to ensure that the vaccine can be stored at -18°C to -22°C to ensure its safety and potency.

DRL has lined up some cold chain storage capacity and has also made logistical arrangements to ensure delivery, including the use of cold storage boxes to maintain the vaccine’s temperature. Once thawed, Sputnik V has to be used within two hours, according to DRL. The company also intends to leverage existing cold storage infrastructure used in the government’s immunisation programme.

Additional stability data is being generated to receive approval to use the vaccine’s lyophilized (freeze dried) form, which would ease cold storage requirements by allowing the vaccine to be stored at 2°C to 8°C. This data will be available “in a few months”, said Sapra.

Availability of the vaccine is expected to ramp up in the next financial quarter (between July and September) once the Indian companies that RDIF has tied up with begin manufacturing doses of the vaccine in the country, according to Sapra. RDIF has agreements with Gland Pharma, Stelis Biopharma, Hetero Biopharma, Panacea Biotec, Virchow Biotech and Shilpa Medicare to make as much as 850 million doses of Sputnik V.

Around 60-70 percent of the global volumes of Sputnik V will be made in India, and “most” of the product made in India will be used for India, according to DRL.

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