Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine priced “lower” at $10/dose

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on November 24, 2020 Published on November 24, 2020

Roll out to start in February

Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, Sputnik V, will cost less than $10 per dose in the international markets, with the roll-out starting in February, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF)said.

The vaccine will be free for its citizens, RDIF said. This comes at a time when health experts in India and abroad worry over the logistics and cost of rolling out a Covid-19 vaccine, when there is a fully approved one.

Kirill Dmitriev, RDIF- Chief Executive, said the vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Center was among the world’s most efficient against coronavirus “with an efficacy rate of more than 90 per cent and a price that is two times lower than that of other vaccines with similar efficacy rate”.

The Russian sovereign wealth fund has tie-ups with multiple manufacturers, including in India, to supply international markets, it said, without giving details. RDIF has an alliance with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories for clinical trials on the vaccine.

Incidentally, Serum Institute has said that the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine will have a ceiling price of $3 per dose, on what is most likely a two-dose vaccine. Serum Institute has a production and distribution alliance for the Oxford-AZ vaccine.

Sputnik V is also a two-dose vaccine and RDIF revealed that the second interim analysis of data from trials showed 95 per cent efficacy, 42 days after the first dose. Earlier this month, RDIF had said, the vaccine showed 92 per cent efficacy after its second doze.

The Russian vaccine's “uniqueness” is in the use of two different human adenoviral vectors which allows for a stronger and longer-term immune response as compared to the vaccines using one and the same vector for two doses, RDIF’s CEO explained.

“We are ready to start deliveries of the Sputnik V vaccine to foreign markets thanks to partnerships with manufacturers in India, Brazil, South Korea, China and four other countries,” he added. RDIF has existing agreements with foreign pharmaceutical companies to make the vaccine for 500 million people annually, starting 2021.

Over the last two weeks vaccine-makers Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-OxfordUniversity have revealed efficacy data on their respective Covid-19 vaccine candidates, all over 90 per cent.

RDIF and partners have begun producing the dry form of the vaccine, stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius. This helps distribution of the vaccine in international markets, as well as expanding its use in hard-to-reach regions, including areas with tropical climates, the RDIF said. The mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are new-tech vaccines, with the former’s storage requirement of -70 degrees C becoming a major stumbling block for low and middle income countries, especially.

More than 22,000 volunteers have been vaccinated with Sputinik V’s first dose and more than 19,000 volunteers with the first and the second dose of the vaccine at 29 medical centers in Russia as part of the ongoing clinical trials, RDIF said. 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, it added.

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Published on November 24, 2020
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