COVID-19 vaccine update: In a major boost to the prospects of a Coronavirus vaccine for India, drugmaker Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL) announced on Wednesday that once it receives the clearances from regulatory authorities upon completion of the final stage of human trials of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, it will distribute 10 crore doses in the country. The Indian Express reported that if it receives this go-ahead then the Russian Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine will also leapfrog Covidshield – the Coronavirus vaccine developed by the Serum Institute of India (SII) – as the frontrunner in the efforts to produce a vaccine for India.
The DRL-Sputnik V deal is an outcome of the discussions between India and Russia over the use of Sputnik V Coronavirus vaccine in India. In its announcement, DRL stated that it has reached an agreement with the Russian sovereign wealth fund involved in the talks – Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) – to conduct phase 3 human clinical trials of the Sputnik V vaccine in India. After the trials it will be distributing the vaccine for public use in India, it added.
The IE report added that as per the timeline suggested by RDIF, about 10 crore Indians could be expected to receive the vaccine by the end of 2020. The report further quoted a company spokesperson as saying that each dose of the Sputnik V vaccine will consist of two separate vials.
And as per the hints being received from the authorities so far, healthcare and frontline workers, or “COVID warriors”, who are the forefront of the country’s battle with the virus and are most susceptible to it, will be the first ones to receive any vaccine that passes all regulatory norms.
The Sputnik V vaccine works on the ‘human adenoviral vector’ technology, which modifies adenoviruses (that are responsible for causing illnesses like fevers, coughs, diarrhoea, etc in humans) so they do not replicate in the human body, and instead carry instructions to cells to produce spike protein of COVID-causing SARS-CoV-2 virus. The expected response to this action is that the human body recognises the spike protein as a foreign substance and builds an immune response – the same manner in which it will then react when Coronavirus tries to infect it.
The Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine has been developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology and it was touted as the “World’s first Coronavirus vaccine” when it received approval for public use in August.