Russia's Sputnik-V COVID-19 vaccine might become available for supply as early as next month, the country's sovereign wealth fund RDIF's top official told ThePrint.
According to Kirill Dmitriev, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of RDIF, they are hoping for approval in January 2021, and are "ready to supply the vaccine to a wider population within the same timeframe".
"As we understand, the country’s government is working on a special Covid-19 inoculation programme that would be using the processes, technology and network of the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) currently in place," Dmitriev said while talking about the distribution process of the vaccine once it receives approval.
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"Strengthening the cold chain systems and deploying trained personnel to ensure vaccine safety would be key to the inoculation process’s ultimate success. Another important thing would be to prioritise socio-demographic groups that would be among the first to gain access to the vaccine apart from healthcare professionals," he added.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
Earlier, RDIF and drug maker Hetero had announced that they have agreed to produce 100 million doses of Sputnik V vaccine every year in India.
The parties intend to start the production of Sputnik V at the beginning of 2021.
Along with Russia, currently Phase III clinical trials are approved and are ongoing in Belarus, the UAE, Venezuela and other countries, as well as Phase II-III in India.This is second such partnership by an Indian company with RDIF. Earlier, Dr Reddy's partnered with RDIF to conduct clinical trials, manufacture and distribute 100 million doses of Sputnik V vaccine in India.
Russian authorities claimed the vaccine demonstrated 95 percent efficacy on the 42nd day after the first dose (equivalent to 21 days after the second dose).
The Russian vaccine is based on two different human adenoviruses as vectors, which the RDIF says it allows for a stronger and longer-term immune response as compared to vaccines using one and the same vector for two doses.