India approves Russian Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19

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New Delhi | India has approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19, a major local drug maker said on Tuesday, as the vaccination campaign is in full swing and an outbreak of contaminations rages in the country of 1.3 billion inhabitants.

“We are very pleased to have obtained authorization for the emergency use of Sputnik V in India,” said GV Prasad, co-chair and general manager of Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, quoted in a statement. “Vaccination is the most effective tool in our fight against COVID-19,” he said.

Sputnik V is the third vaccine to gain approval from Indian authorities, alongside Covashield, a locally produced version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and Covaxin, an Indian vaccine developed by national company Bharat Biotech.

Under agreements already reached, 852 million doses of the Russian vaccine, supported by the Russian Direct Investment Fund, will be produced in India.

The approval of Sputnik V is a “major step forward” after “extensive cooperation” in clinical trials of the vaccine in India, said Kirill Dmitriev, managing director of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, quoted in a statement.

India is currently experiencing a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, and local authorities have had to impose new measures to combat the virus, including night curfews, partial lockdowns, and restrictions on movement and d ‘activities, depending on the state.

On Monday, the South Asian country reported an increase of more than 161,000 new infections. More than 100,000 new cases have been reported daily for seven consecutive days.

India, home to Serum Institute (SII), the world’s largest vaccine maker, launched its mass vaccination campaign in mid-January.

But the government’s ambitious goal of vaccinating 300 million people by the end of July is lagging behind due to stockouts in some states and public reluctance towards vaccines.