At least three major hospital groups in India have cancelled orders for Sputnik V even though the country is a major production centre of the Russian vaccine.
According to a Reuters report, Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical College and Hospital in Pune, another hospital in the city which did not want to be identified, and Avis Hospitals, which runs eight vaccination centres in Hyderabad, have all cancelled order for the Russian vaccine.
Private hospitals in India are struggling to sell COVID-19 shots amid surging supplies of free doses of other vaccines offered by the government, the report said.
Some industry officials said low demand and the extremely cold storage requirements have also led to cancellations.
“With storage and everything, we have cancelled our order for 2,500 doses,” said Jitendra Oswal, a senior medical official at Bharati Vidyapeeth, told Reuters.
“Demand is also not great. There is a class of people, barely 1 per cent, that wanted to go for Sputnik. For the rest, anything would do.”
From May until last week, private hospitals administered just 6 per cent of all vaccines given in India. Since a June launch event by India’s Sputnik V distributor, Dr Reddy’s Laborities, only 943,000 doses of Sputnik V have been administered.
Low domestic uptake could mean higher exports instead, the report said.
The mainstay of India’s inoculation drive is the AstraZeneca vaccine Covishield, which can be stored in regular refrigerators, unlike Sputnik V, which needs temperatures of -18 degrees Celsius.
Sputnik V is also as much as 47 per cent more expensive than AstraZeneca on the open market.
Covishield accounts for 88 per cent of India’s inoculations, followed by Bharat Biotech’s domestically developed Covaxin. Both are available for free at government centres.