Russia, India to make Sputnik vaccine by September : Bharti Jayshankar

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund), and Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, announced a pact to make the Russian Sputnik vaccine against coronavirus.

They intend to produce over 300 million doses of the vaccine in India per year with the first batch expected in September 2021, according to a statement from RDIF.

The technology transfer process has already started and the “cultivation process has begun following the approval by the Drug Controller General of India,” according to the statement.

SII is the world’s largest company in terms of Covid vaccine production with more than 500 million doses already manufactured through several strategic associations.

In addition to developing its own vaccine, SII is currently manufacturing Covishield (developed by AstraZeneca-Oxford), Covovax (by Novavax), and conducting trials of Codagenix in the UK.

Vector samples

“As part of the technical transfer process, SII has already received cell and vector samples from the Gamaleya Center. With their import approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), the cultivation process has begun,” according to the statement posted on the RDIF website.

India is the leading production hub for the production of Sputnik vaccine. RDIF had earlier reached agreements with a number of pharmaceutical companies in India (Gland Pharma, Hetero Biopharma, Panacea Biotec, Stelis Biopharma, Virchow Biotech, and Morepen) for the production of the Russian vaccine.

The Russian Sputnik V vaccine has been registered in 67 countries globally with a total population of over 3.5-billion people.

Data obtained by regulators in countries during the vaccination, including Argentina, Serbia, Bahrain, Hungary, Mexico, San Marino, UAE, and others, demonstrates that Sputnik V is one of the “safest and most effective vaccines against coronavirus,” according to the statement.

“This strategic partnership is a major step to substantially increase our production capabilities, demonstrating a perfect example of joining forces and expertise to save lives, both in India and around the world,” said Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund.

Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India, said: “ We hope to make millions of doses in the coming months with trial batches starting in the month of September.”

Efficacy rate

Sputnik V has an efficacy rate of 97.6%. It employs heterogeneous boosting — two different vectors for the two shots in a course of vaccination among COVID vaccines. This approach provides for immunity with a longer duration than vaccines using the same delivery mechanism for both shots. It can be stored at 28 degrees Celsius.

The RDIF is Russia’s sovereign wealth fund established in 2011 to make equity co-investments, primarily in Russia, alongside international financial and strategic investors.

RDIF acts as a catalyst for direct investment in the Russian economy and is based in Moscow. Currently, RDIF has experience in the successful joint implementation of more than 80 projects with foreign partners.

The Serum Institute of India, founded in 1966, is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by the number of doses produced and sold globally (more than 1.5 billion doses), supplying the world’s cheapest and WHO- accredited vaccines to as many as 170 countries.

The SII has a multifunctional production facility in Manjri, Pune, India.

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