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24 May, 2021 14:26

Production of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine begins in India amid growing death toll and supply shortages

Production of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine begins in India amid growing death toll and supply shortages

Sputnik V vaccine production has begun in India, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which funded its development, has said. The manufacturing of the jabs will be ramped up to full capacity during the summer.

In a statement on Monday, Kirill Dmitriev, who leads the RDIF, said that manufacturing Sputnik V will help India “leave behind the acute phase of coronavirus as soon as possible.”

Indian pharmaceutical firm Panacea Biotec has partnered with RDIF to produce the vaccine. Rajesh Jain, the firm’s CEO, said that the company hopes to “help bring a sense of normalcy back to people across the country and around the world.”

The first batch of the vaccine, which is being produced at Panacea Biotec’s facilities in the town of Baddi in India’s northern Himachal Pradesh state, will be shipped for quality control to Moscow’s Gamaleya Center, which developed Sputnik V. Full-scale production of the much-needed shots will start in summer, the RDIF said. Sputnik V was approved for emergency use in India in April.

The Asian giant’s rollout of the vaccines has been hampered by supply shortages. Atishi Marlena Singh, a member of the Delhi Legislative Assembly, was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying that the city was “running short” of the Indian-made Covaxin vaccine for people over 45, and only had “a week’s supply” of the Covishield (AstraZeneca) vaccine.

Also on rt.com India administers first dose of Russian-made Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V as country battles with more than 300,000 daily new cases

Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the Serum Institute of India that produces Covishield under license from AstraZeneca, said earlier this month that it was “not possible to ramp up production overnight,” but vowed to make vaccines available for everyone. “Even the most advanced countries and companies are struggling in relatively smaller populations,” he said. 

Indian health officials recorded 220,315 new Covid-19 cases on Monday – the lowest daily number since mid-April, after which the cases began to surge dramatically. The Asian country remains second in the world in terms of total caseload, surpassed only by the US.

More than 4,000 people in India are dying from Covid-19 on a daily basis, with 4,454 new deaths reported over the past 24 hours. The country’s total death toll from the pandemic shot past 300,000 on Monday, and is now the third-largest after the US and Brazil.

In addition to Covid-19, India is currently fighting an outbreak of the normally rare and deadly infection called mucormycosis, also known as black fungus, with more than 9,000 cases reported so far.

Also on rt.com ‘Black fungus’ declared an epidemic in Jammu & Kashmir as India battles deadly infection

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