The first doses of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine were administered in India on Friday in a soft launch that is expected to be scaled up in the coming days. The vaccine will cost Rs 995.40 including tax for a shot, the company said, as well as announcing a single-dose variant Sputnik Light that could be approved in the next few weeks. Deepak Sapra, the CEO of APIs and Services at Dr Reddy's Laboratories, which is manufacturing the vaccines in India, spoke to NDTV in an exclusive interview, answering a host of questions from viewers.
Here is all you need to know about the Sputnik COVID-19 vaccines in India:
Will there be different pricing for the centre, states and private players?
The imported doses will have uniform pricing for all - Rs 995.40 including tax. A decision on whether there will be any differences in the Made-In-India shots depending on who buys it has not yet been taken.
How much lower will prices be for shots made in India?
No word on pricing for the India-made shots yet but the company aims to cut input costs as much as possible to offer it at the lowest price.
Where will Sputnik V be available first?
Since it needs to be stored at -18 degrees Celsius, the vaccines will be available in 35 cities across the country at first.
What about wider availability?
Once the cold chain logistics are worked out in other locations, the shots will be available in other places as well. Separately, tests are underway for keeping the vaccines between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius and if the results are favourable, a wider rollout is expected much faster.
When will Sputnik V be available?
The initial doses have arrived and will be given out starting next week. Dry runs for testing the cold chain logistics are being carried out using these. The production in "meaningful quantities" is expected to begin in mid-June.
Will Sputnik V be part of the CoWIN system?
Yes, the vaccine has been listed as a third option on the CoWIN site and Aarogya Setu app.
How effective is Sputnik V?
Sputnik V has an efficacy of 91.6 per cent. More than 2 crore people in 60 countries have received the jab. In real-world data, Sputnik compares "very, very favourably" with other global vaccines and is among the top two-three.
Will Sputnik Light, the single-dose version of Sputnik V, be available in India?
Yes, it will be available. Dr Reddy's is working closely with its Russian partner Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology for this.
What is the Sputnik Light vaccine?
Sputnik Light is just the first dose of Sputnik V. It has already been approved by Russian regulators and has been found to have an efficacy of 79.4 per cent. The vaccine can help provide meaningful immunogenicity to a large population in a dire situation like the one India is in right now. Taking the second dose on top of this will improve its efficacy to 91.6 per cent.
When will Sputnik Light be available?
Dr Reddy's expects to have a dialogue about the vaccine with Indian regulators in June. If it is cleared, the vaccine can be rolled out fairly quickly. The production capacity of the shot is being ramped up keeping this in mind.
How much will Sputnik Light cost?
It will cost less than a two-dose vaccine but final pricing is yet to be determined.
Why did a Lancet article question the transparency of data of Sputnik V's testing?
The article was in response to one published in the same journal by Russia's Gamaleya Research Institute. The institute also gave a rejoinder to the article that questioned its transparency and that was published in The Lancet as well. Dr Reddy's is sufficiently satisfied with the response.
Why is Sputnik V still not approved by the WHO?
That is a process that is underway. It is likely to be approved in the next few weeks.