NEW DELHI: The Russian government, days after announcing that it was going to start mass vaccination of the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine, is in talks with four Indian vaccine makers for its mass production, which may start as early as October.
Though the Indian government has, so far, been silent on any collaboration with Russia on the vaccine, top authorities in Russia at a press briefing on Thursday announced the proposed tie-ups, which was confirmed by Indian officials.
On August 11, the vaccine named ‘Sputnik V’, endorsed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been approved by Russia even as scientists worldwide have expressed scepticism on its safety and efficacy as it has not completed human trials yet, and no data from its early stage trials have been released, so far.
The vaccine has been developed by Gamaleya Research Institute and the Russian defence ministry and has been created using inanimate particles developed based on adenovirus, a class of virus that causes the common cold in primates including humans.
It is set to enter phase 3 trial next week involving 40,000 volunteers, it was also announced on Thursday.
Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a government body, which is financing the production of Sputnik V, said at the press briefing that “currently, we are working with 4 partners in India, we believe that they are capable of production of the Gamaleya Institute vaccine.” Russia said while it could produce 500 million doses of the vaccine, it’s looking to churn out 1 billion doses manufactured as many other countries have also shown interest in getting it.
RFID, on its website, has also said it sees “strong global interest in the vaccine and plans to conduct Phase 3 clinical trials in different countries, including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Brazil, India and Philippines, and start mass production in other countries in partnership with local sovereign wealth funds, including India, South Korea and Brazil, as well as, in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Cuba.” Government officials in India confirmed that Russia has been in talks with the Ministry of External Affairs and some vaccine manufacturers, including Bharat Biotech, for mass production of the vaccine in the country.