Pune: National Immunization Technical Advisory Group chairman Dr NK Arora told TOI that Russian vaccine Sputnik V may not be able to enter government inoculation sites until its supply is increasing considerably.
Explaining the reason for the delay in its supply, Arora said, “The Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine uses two different adenoviruses as viral vectors. The first injection contains adenovirus 26 (Ad26) as a viral vector, while the second contains adenovirus 5 (Ad5). Making the second dose is a slow process because the Ad5 virus grows very slowly. As the second dose takes a long time to manufacture, supplies have been delayed. The first doses would only be available when supplies for the second shot were increased. ”
So far, only a few lakh doses of the vaccine have been available for use in India. Several private hospitals are running out of the first dose of the vaccine, a source at one of the facilities in Pune said on Wednesday.
Dr Arora said some viruses grow very slowly under controlled conditions, including adenovirus 5. “The virus has been used in the past for candidate vaccines and has caused the same problem. The availability of Sputnik V so far in India is not high enough to incorporate the vaccine into the government’s free vaccination program. It is only when availability increases that a system, along with cold storage of the vaccine, can be developed for introduction into government centers. The vaccine requires proper storage in the cold chain – up to half an hour before it is administered, ”he said.
The vaccine should be stored at -18 ° C for stability and potency. Apart from Russia, only India currently makes the vaccine, he said.
Dr Arora said the vaccine manufacturing process had started in India, but problems with speeding up production of the second dose were encountered here as well as in Russia. “Dr Reddy’s, who launched Sputnik V on a pilot basis in India, has been trying to fix the problem for the last two or three months now and we are being told that there would be progress soon.”
In an email response to TOI, a spokesperson for Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Limited said, “We are working closely with our partners in India to prepare for manufacturing. We anticipate that locally manufactured doses will likely be available from the September-October period. So far we have received 31.5 lakh doses of component 1 and 4.5 lakh doses of component 2 from Sputnik V vaccine in India. We are working closely with RDIF (Russian Direct Investment Fund) to increase supplies.
People who want the first dose of Sputnik V complain about the delay in vaccination. A representative from a private hospital that previously administered the vaccine said the facility had stopped giving the first doses because it was out of stock.
“We still have the second doses of Sputnik, which came with the first batch we received. The second shots should be used for those that are due, ”the rep said.