02:55 GMT18 May 2021
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    India reported more than 160,000 Covid infections on Sunday, the highest globally, as it overtook Brazil to become the second-worst hit country in the pandemic.

    Amid the second wave of Covid-19 in the country, the Indian government's expert panel has approved the emergency use of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, which will be manufactured and rolled out by Dr. Reddy's Laboratory pharmaceutical company.

    India is currently manufacturing and supplying two vaccines, both nationally and internationally – the Serum Institute of India's Covishield, developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin. 

    Now that the emergency use of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine has been approved in India, Dr. Guleria, director of All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), New Delhi, explains its potential impact. 

    Sputnik: The Indian government has finally approved the emergency use of Sputnik V. What does it mean for India?

    Dr. Guleria: This is great news. The approval of Sputnik V is a huge step in India’s fight against Covid-19. To vaccinate the population of 1.3 billion in India, and with the availability of Sputnik V, there will be an increase in the pool of our vaccine and it’ll help us vaccinating more and more people in a short time period. 

    India is the manufacturing hub for vaccines. And we should be able to produce more and more doses of vaccine, not only for our own country but for other countries as well, which don’t have manufacturing capacity of their own. 

    Sputnik: What’s the efficacy of Sputnik V compared to Covishield and Covaxin?

    Dr. Guleria: It’s very good. The data in the phase three trials of Sputnik V vaccine showed almost 91 percent efficacy, which is very high. The other advantage is unlike the Pfizer vaccine, Sputnik V can be rolled out without that much requirement of cold storage.

    Sputnik: When do you think Sputnik V will be made available on the Indian market?

    Dr. Guleria: That should happen within two weeks because once the pool is there then the company piling the stock of the vaccine will just have to supply it. They just have to make an agreement with the government in terms of its cost and other factors. 

    The government will decide how to add it to the already existing supply chain strategy of the two vaccines. It will depend upon where there is a lot of need for it and the number of vaccines that should be available over a period of time. 

    Sputnik: There has been a sudden surge in Covid-19 cases in India. What action must be taken now to beat the crisis?

    Dr. Guleria: We need to have aggressive Covid appropriate behaviour and protocol. The virus spreads from one individual to another through droplet infection. If you don’t wear a mask and if you have a crowd gathering, then the virus will spread quickly and that has been the biggest reason for a sudden surge in the number of cases. 

    I think it is very important to take measures to prevent a crowd from forming and make sure people have physical distancing. And everyone has to wear a mask when they are travelling. Of course, the old strategy of testing, isolation, and development of containment zone in that area needs to be done more aggressively.


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