Pharmaceutical giant Dr Reddy’s Laboratories on Friday administered the first dose of Sputnik V, the COVID vaccine manufactured in Russia and shipped to India recently. It is set to price the vaccine at around ₹995 per shot.
As part of a limited pilot, a soft launch was made and the first shot given in Hyderabad, where the company is headquartered. The efficacy of Sputnik V was determined to be 91.6% as per a published article in medical journal The Lancet, said the company.
The first consignment of Sputnik V vaccine landed in India on May 1. The Central Drugs Laboratory, Kasauli, gave it regulatory clearance on May 13. “Further consignments of imported doses are expected over the upcoming months. Subsequently, supply of the Sputnik V vaccine will commence from Indian manufacturing partners,” Dr Reddy’s said in a press release.
It added that the imported doses of the vaccine will be priced at ₹948 + 5% GST per shot, adding up to about ₹995. Once it is manufactured in India, the price is expected to come down. For this, the company said, it is “working closely with its six manufacturing partners to fulfil regulatory requirements to ensure a smooth and timely supply”.
The Centre had said on Thursday that Sputnik V is likely to be available in the market from next week. India is considering the production of 15.6 crore doses of the Russian formulation.
Third vaccine in India
Sputnik V is the third COVID vaccine to be available in India. The other two are Covishield, the vaccine developed by Oxford University-AstraZeneca and manufactured locally by Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin, developed indigenously by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Virology (NIV).
For non-government purchasers, Covishield and Covaxin are priced at ₹600 and ₹1,200, respectively. However, private hospitals charge additional fees for registration, etc.
The Centre has come in for severe criticism over its vaccine strategy. There is an acute shortage, particularly for the 18-to-44 age group. Also, thanks to policy flipflops, state governments have been forced to place global tenders to procure vaccines directly.
Also, vis-à-vis the policy of free vaccines for other diseases such as polio and measles, the government expects a large chunk of the population to pay for COVID vaccines. The introduction of Sputnik V in the markets next week may at least address the scarcity issue to an extent.