Featured image: A handout photo provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) shows samples of a vaccine against COVID-19 developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, in Moscow, Russia, August 6, 2020. Photo: Via Reuters
Moscow: Russia’s sovereign wealth fund has agreed to supply 100 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, to Indian drug company Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, the fund said on Wednesday, as Moscow speeds up plans to distribute its shot abroad.
The deal comes after the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) reached agreements with Indian manufacturers to produce 300 million doses of the vaccine in India, which is a major consumer of Russian oil and arms.
Dr Reddy’s, one of India’s top pharmaceutical companies, will carry out phase III clinical trials of the vaccine in India, pending regulatory approval, RDIF said in a statement.
Deliveries to India could begin in late 2020, it said, adding this was subject to the completion of trials and the vaccine’s registration by regulatory authorities in India.
Russia was the first country to license a novel coronavirus vaccine before large-scale phase III trials were complete, stirring concern among scientists and doctors about the safety and efficacy of the shot.
The phase I and II results had shown promise, G.V. Prasad, co-chairman of Dr Reddy’s, was cited in the RDIF statement as saying.
“Sputnik V vaccine could provide a credible option in our fight against COVID-19 in India,” he said.
There was no detail about the price of the vaccine but RDIF has said previously it was not aiming at making a profit, just covering costs.
The agreement comes as India’s coronavirus cases surged past five million on Wednesday, piling pressure on hospitals grappling with unreliable supplies of oxygen that they need to treat tens of thousands of critical patients.