Second Covid Wave: DGCI approves Russia’s Sputnik V in India amid vaccine shortage in states

Meanwhile, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan has sought an additional 50 lakh vaccine doses as the state has vaccine stock for the next three days
Sputnik V
Sputnik VTwitter

The Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) has approved the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine as India is in the midst of a second Covid wave. India has become the 60th country to approve Sputnik V.

On Monday, the DGCI gave clearance for the vaccine after receiving consent from the Subject Expert Committee of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization. The vaccine has a 91.6% efficacy which is the highest among all vaccines. The clearance comes at a time when many states have reported vaccine shortage.

Hyderabad based Dr Reddy’s pharmaceutical company will manufacture Sputnik V in India. In February, Dr Reddy’s had applied for emergency use approval of the vaccine. Reportedly, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) is targeting to produce more than 850 million doses per year. To keep up with the production target, the RDIF has signed an agreement with five pharmaceutical companies in the country – Hetero Biopharma, Panacea Biotec, Gland Pharma, Virchow Biotech and Stelis Biopharma.

RDIF’s CEO Kirill Dmitriev said that India should get the first doses by early May in India. “We believe that first doses will be delivered by the end of April or realistically by early May. We have five great manufacturers in India who will be producing doses as well,” Dmitriev told a leading national channel.

He added that it would take months to ramp up production capacity. However, they are hoping that come June, the company would produce vaccines at a good pace. Reports also suggest that the Serum Institute of India (SII) may tie up with RDIF to produce the Sputnik V vaccine in India. SII is the leading vaccine manufacturer in the world. Currently, SII is manufacturing the Covishield vaccine, one of the first Covid-19 vaccines approved in India with Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.

The approval of Sputnik V comes at a time when India reported 1,61,736 new cases on Tuesday. Maharashtra continues to have the highest caseload, followed by Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi.

Meanwhile, states in India continue to face vaccine shortage and one among them is Kerala. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has written to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, seeking an additional 50 lakh vaccine doses as the state has stock for only the next three days. “So far the state has received 56,84,360 doses of COVID vaccine, including 54,40,740 of Covishield and 2,43,620 of Covaxin and we have administered 48,24,505 doses till April 11,” he said.

Recently, the Kerala government imposed further restrictions as the second wave is passing through the state. The government has said that restaurants and shops must close at 9 pm. They pointed out that hotels can function with a 50% seating capacity and food parcels should be encouraged. They added that guest should be given food in packets at wedding functions.

According to the latest restrictions, 200 people are permitted at public events in open spaces, while 100 people are allowed in closed room function. Also, public events cannot exceed two hours.

The restrictions come on a day when Kerala reported 5,692 positive cases, 2,474 recoveries and 11 deaths. The state collected 45,417 samples and the Test Positivity Rate is 12.53%. Reportedly, the samples for the last 24 hours were collected only till 2 pm.

Earlier, Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja has expressed concern over large crowds at the upcoming Thrissur Pooram as the state is facing a second wave of Covid-19. “It is dangerous to have crowds during Thrissur Pooram. The Devaswom board should decide on the Thirussur Pooram through talks. They should consider whether they can hold the Pooram like how the Attukal Pongala was conducted,” Shailaja said.

The state government is likely to announce its decision on conducting the Thrissur Pooram today.

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