India on Saturday received the first batch of 1,50,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine even as the country is battling a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Three million additional doses of the Russian vaccine are scheduled to arrive this month, and another five million by June.
The vaccines will be delivered to Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, which has joined hands with Russian Direct Investment Fund to produce the vaccine in India. The Drugs Controller General of India on April 13 had granted permission to Sputnik V vaccine for restricted use in emergency situations.
The ministry of external affairs said in a statement on Twitter: “Sputnik-V vaccine arrives in Hyderabad from Russia! Will add to arsenal to fight the pandemic. This third option will augment our vaccine capacity & accelerate our vaccination drive.”
“This is the 1st consignment of 1.5 lakh doses of Sputnik-V vaccine with millions of doses to follow. Plans to ‘Make in India’ for use in & 3rd countries. Deeply value support from long-standing friend Russia,” the statement added.
Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay R Kudashev tweeted: “As Russia and India continue dedicated joint efforts to combat the COVID19, this move is especially important to support the Indian Government’s endeavors to mitigate the deadly second wave and save lives…”
The Sputnik V vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Russia, underlines India’s need to address an acute shortage of vaccines for its ailing citizens — on Saturday, India reported more than 4 lakh new infections. The arrival of Sputnik V also marks the launch of third phase of Covid-19 vaccination drive in India to cover people in the 18-44 year age group.
The delivery of the Sputnik V vaccine is an important step in the India-Russia joint fight against the coronavirus threat and in keeping with commitment of support by President Vladimir Putin to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a recent telephone conversation. India had approved emergency supplies of hydroxychloroquine to Russia when the pandemic unfolded last year.
On Thursday, two Russian flights with oxygen concentrators, lung ventilation equipment, bedside monitors, medicines, including Coronavir, and other essential pharmaceutical items had arrived in India as part of a growing global effort to help the country battle a second and more deadly Covid-19 wave.
PTI adds: The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) in a tweet on Saturday said that Hyderabad customs expedited the clearance of the COVID-19 vaccine imported from Russia.
“Hyderabad Customs, @cgstcushyd facilitated expeditious clearance of #SputnikV Vaccine imported from Russia,” the CBIC tweeted. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a tweet said: “Appropriate timely response @cgstcushyd. Need of the hour.”