The government on Tuesday said India and Russia were in communication on the recently registered Sputnik-V Covid-19 vaccine developed by Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology and the Russian Direct Investment Fund.
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, co-chair of the national Covid-19 vaccine administration task force, confirmed the dialogue on a day when Russia is learnt to have formally approached India for collaboration to produce Sputnik-V and for approval to conduct phase-3 human trials in India.
“The two countries are in communication. Initial information has been shared. Some details are awaited,” said Bhushan, indicating India had asked Russia for additional safety data.
Russia tested and registered Sputnik-V in record time, raising safety concerns with phase-3 trials yet to be concluded. The vaccine registration was announced on August 11 by Russian President Vladimir Putin saying one of his daughters had been administered the dose and the vaccine provided “stable immunity and was effective”.
However, the WHO on Monday said the real test would be in phase-3 trials during which 30 per cent protection at population level needed to be established.
The Indian drug regulator, meanwhile, has approved only one foreign vaccine candidate for phase-2 and 3 human trials in India. This is the Oxford University and Serum Institute of India collaborative candidate being administered to 1,700 Indians.
Government sources said Russian Ambassador Nikolay Kudashev had contacted Principal Scientific Adviser K Vijay Raghavan for vaccine-making partnership and the matter was before the national vaccine task force.
Bhushan today said 172 UN member nations had joined COVAX, the multi-lateral vaccine procurement system developed by the WHO jointly with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Initiative and global vaccine giant GAVI.