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Russia signs more deals with India to make 300 million Sputnik V vaccines

India is the world's biggest vaccine maker and its pharmaceutical industry is freeing up capacity and accelerating investments ahead of the global rush for COVID-19 shots.

December 18, 2020 / 04:33 PM IST

India will produce about 300 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines next year, a Russian official was quoted as saying, nearly three times the previously known number as deals have been signed with more manufacturers.

Russia is already testing the first samples of Sputnik V that were produced in India, its embassy in New Delhi said on Twitter on Friday, sharing a news story in which their vaccine czar Kirill Dmitriev was quoted.

"In India, we have agreements with four large manufacturers," Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) told Rossiya 24 TV, according to news agency TASS.

"India will produce about 300 million doses or more of the vaccine for us next year."

India is the world's biggest vaccine maker and its pharmaceutical industry is freeing up capacity and accelerating investments ahead of the global rush for COVID-19 shots.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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India's Hetero Biopharma has already announced a deal with the RDIF to make more than 100 million doses of Sputnik V, whose efficacy has been found to be more than 91% in trials done outside India.

It was not immediately clear which other Indian companies would make the vaccine, though Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Ltd is conducting clinical trials of it in India and will also distribute the finished vaccine.

Indian officials have said they may approve some vaccines for emergency use authorization in the coming weeks. So far only three vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech and Indian company Bharat Biotech have applied for urgent approval.

India's health ministry on Friday reported 22,890 new coronavirus infections, taking its total to just shy of 10 million. It is the world's second-worst affected country after the United States, which has recorded 16.9 million cases.

India's deaths rose by 338, taking the total to 144,789.

 
Reuters

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