Import delay, limited availability prevents Sputnik V COVID vaccine take-off in India

Of every 1000 people who have taken shots, less than 1 received Sputnik V, despite its soft launch in India in May through its local partner Dr Reddy's.
Image used for representational purpose only
Image used for representational purpose only

NEW DELHI: India has now reached a significant milestone of having fully vaccinated one in every four adult against COVID-19 but the role of  Sputnik V in the drive, has been spectacularly underwhelming.

Of nearly 89 crore vaccines doses administered in India till Friday afternoon, less than just 9,56,0859 doses were that of the Russian vaccine which uses an adenovirus based platform and claims 90 per cent efficacy. 

In other words, of every 1000 people who have taken shots, less than 1 received Sputnik V, despite its soft launch in India in May through its local partner Dr Reddy's.

Sources in the government said a delay on the part of Russia to send both the doses of the vaccine together - Sputnik V, given in two doses is the only vaccine where both the doses have separate components which are not interchangeable - is a main reason why it could never really take off in India.

The other reason is the vaccine being only available in private hospitals where it costs Rs 995 per shot. Another limitation is that its recipients must receive both the doses at the same centre.  "While Russia sent the first batch to India, it only sent the first doses but the hospitals could not immediately start administering it as the two doses are to be given only 21 days apart and the second doses did not arrive for a long time," said a senior official. This was confirmed by a representative of private hospitals.

"As the adult vaccination started-many people even interested in Sputnik V could not get it and later once they took one shot of either Covishield or Covaxin, they could not get Sputnik V evn if its both doses were available at the hospitals. With COVID-19 vaccination saturated in metropolitans now, there are few takers for this vaccines," said Association of Healthcare Providers of India director-general Girdhar J Gyani

A spokesperson with Dr Reddy's told The New Indian Express that with the start of supply of the second dose component manufactured by a partner in India, it has initiated supply of the first dose component to partner hospitals all over India followed by equivalent quantities of the second dose component.

"The supply momentum therefore is ongoing," said the firm. The Russian Direct Investment Fund, which markets the vaccine abroad, did not respond to a request for comment.

Air sanitation devices in universities

NEW DELHI: As physical classes in many universities and colleges have resumed now, the All India Council for Technical Education has instructed institutes affiliated under it to install air-sanitisation devices based on ultraviolet band irradiation to ensure the safety of staff and students. 

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The New Indian Express