As the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine candidate is raging across the globe, Sputnik V, Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine is generating a lot of buzz as the first coronavirus vaccine. The veterinary and human vaccine maker Indian Immunologicals Ltd is known to be engaged in discussion for potential collaboration and mass produce it in India.
Although nothing concrete has come up, people close to the development have said that there has been an exchange of information from both sides to decide whether the Hyderabad-based firm can successfully incorporate the Russian technology and step up production here.
The managing director of the company has said that talks are on with the Russian counterparts. “We are exploring the option of manufacturing the Sputnik V vaccine here after it gets the requisite approvals, Indian Immunologicals confirmed when contacted. “Right now, we’ve exchanged some information that we’re going through and we’ve not decided on it yet,” he said.
However, there is still a lot to consider before taking the plunge. There is the technology that has to be considered whether it can be transferred to the Indian platform about the production capacity. We’re looking at the compatibility of what they have done, whether it fits with the equipment we have and at what scale we can produce this vaccine,” the MD said.
The Russian candidate is touted as the first COVID-19 vaccine, surfacing much before the much-talked-about Oxford vaccine. Sputnik V is a human adenoviral vector vaccine. It uses a genetically modified virus to carry the code for the cells in the human body to produce the spiky outer layer (spike protein) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This is expected to help the body identify this spike protein as a foreign substance and build an immune response against it so that it can tackle the real virus when it tries to infect. In a media briefing on September 8, Niti Aayog Member (Health) Dr. VK Paul had iterated that the central government had been looking at possibilities of producing Sputnik V in India when a scale-up would be required. It had also been looking at conducting large scale phase 3 human trials of the vaccine in India.