In a significant development related to the COVID-19 vaccine, Russia has expressed its willingness to the Indian government for collaboration in the manufacturing of Sputnik V vaccine (COVID-19 vaccine), a government official said on Tuesday.
It is pertinent to note that Russia claims to have developed the first COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V, a human adenoviral vector vaccine that fights against coronavirus disease. It is developed by the Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. Last week, Russian researchers informed that presently the vaccine in phase 3 clinical trial.
Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary said on Tuesday responding to a question on whether the Russian government has placed any formal request for the manufacturing of its Sputnik V vaccine in India. He said that as far as Sputnik V vaccine (COVID-19 vaccine developed in Russia) was concerned, both India and Russia were in communication, some initial information had been shared while some detailed information was awaited.
A govt official said that the Vaccine and Research and Development Taskforce co-chaired by Dr Vinod Paul (Member of the Niti Aayog and Professor Vijayraghavan who was Principal Scientific Advisor) would examine the suggestions for potential collaborations on vaccine development, the committee, with inputs from members, particularly the Department of Biotechnology and the ICMR, would examine the information on the matter and will link potential collaborators where robust and value-added collaborations are feasible and meaningful.
Russian researchers had said during an online press briefing last week that more than 40,000 people in 45 medical centres were participating in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter clinical study of the efficacy, immunogenicity, and safety of the Sputnik V vaccine in Russia, simultaneously with the vaccination of volunteers from risk groups.
When asked about any plans for a joint venture with Indian pharma companies, Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said: “Yes, production of the vaccine is an important issue, we look to Indian drug producers to co-partner as we believe India is capable of producing Gamaleya Institute vaccine and it is important to say that these partnerships should produce a vaccine that enables us to cover the demand that we have received.”
Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials of the vaccine have been completed on August 1. “All the volunteers are feeling well, no unforeseen or unwanted side effects were observed. The vaccine-induced strong antibody and cellular immune response. Not a single participant of the current clinical trials got infected with COVID-19 after being administered with the vaccine,” said researchers from Gamaleya National Institute.
“The high efficacy of the vaccine was confirmed by high precision tests for antibodies in the blood serum of volunteers (including analysis for antibodies that neutralize the coronavirus), as well as the ability of the immune cells of the volunteers to activate in response to the spike S protein of the coronavirus, which indicates the formation of both antibody and cellular immune vaccine response,” Russian researchers said.
Phase 3 clinical trial involving more than 2,000 people in Russia, a number of Middle Eastern (UAE and Saudi Arabia), and Latin American countries (Brazil and Mexico) started on August 12. The vaccine has received a registration certificate from the Russian Ministry of Health on August 11 and under emergency rules adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic can be used to vaccinate the population in Russia. Mass production of the vaccine is expected to start in September 2020, they said.
Globally, there have been 23,491,520 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 809,970 deaths, reported to WHO. According to the India health ministry, India’s COVID19 case tally crossed 31 lakh mark with 60,975 fresh cases and 848 deaths in the last 24 hours. The COVID19 case tally in the country rises to 31,67,324 including 7,04,348 active cases, 24,04,585 discharged, and 58,390 deaths due to the virus.