India approves Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use
Published: 03:42 PM, 13 April 2021
India has authorised the emergency use of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine amid a deadly second wave of infections, the health ministry said on Tuesday.
Sputnik V is the third vaccine to be approved by India after the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot and Covaxin, which was developed by Indian firm Bharat Biotech.
The approval came on a day when India overtook Brazil to become the country with the second-highest number of cases globally. With a total case tally of more than 13.5 million cases, India is now only behind the United States which has reported more than 31 million cases. With 13.4 million cases, Brazil is now at number three.
The recommendations of an expert panel (SEC) had been accepted to authorise Sputnik V's use, the health ministry said in a statement.
“The SEC recommended for grant of permission for restricted use in emergency situations subject to various regulatory provisions.”
G.V. Prasad, the co-chair of pharmaceutical company Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, said his firm was “very pleased to obtain the emergency use authorisation”.
“With the rising cases in India, vaccination is the most effective tool in our battle against Covid-19,” he added.
Sputnik V, backed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), already has production agreements in India to produce 852 million doses.
RDIF chief executive Kirill Dmitriev said in a statement that the approval was a “major milestone” after “extensive cooperation” on clinical trials of the shot in India.
Experts welcomed the authorisation but warned that the vaccine was unlikely to be available for use in the near-term.
“It’s good news as it will boost the supply of vaccines in India… but it’s not going to do too much for the current surge (in cases),” virologist Shahid Jameel told AFP.
Dmitriev told Indian broadcaster NDTV that the first doses could be ready by late April or May, with ramped up production by June.
“We believe by June, we will really be at good production capacity in India and will become a very meaningful player in vaccination programme in India,” he added.
India, home to the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer, kicked off its inoculation drive in mid-January and has administered more than 108 million shots so far.