HYDERABAD: Russia, which is looking to churn out large doses of its Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V for global supply, is knocking on the doors of vaccine manufacturers in Hyderabad.

Representatives of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which has been involved in Sputnik V’s development, have approached top vaccine manufacturers in the city, according to industry sources.
Hyderabad, which accounts for over a third of the global vaccine capacities, is home to players such as Biological Evans, Shantha Biotechnics, Indian Immunologicals Ltd and Bharat Biotech.

According to sources, a couple of companies are considering manufacturing the Russian vaccine. However, the likes of Shantha Biotechnics and Bio E have not shown interest because they have their own vaccine candidates for which they would be requiring manufacturing capacities.

“RDIF representatives shared some information regarding the collaboration which we are studying,” said the top honcho of a Hyderabad-based vaccine maker.

Scientists doubt Sputnik V’s efficacy

They want both the full finish capacities as well as bulk drug substance capacities. All the vaccine manufacturers want to see if the technology the Russians are using fits their capabilities.”

Shantha Biotechnics, which is part of French pharma giant Sanofi-Aventis, is awaiting the recombinant DNA technology-based vaccine candidate that is being jointly developed by Sanofi and GSK. On the other hand, Biological E has already entered into a technology transfer agreement with Johnson & Johnson for the latter’s Ad26.COV2.S vaccine candidate that is currently undergoing Phase 1/2a clinical trials and has also inked a licencing pact with Baylor college of medicine, Texas, for development and commercialisation of the latter’s recombinant protein Covid-19 vaccine.

Russia has already been in parleys with the Indian government on the issue and is reportedly looking at manufacturing 30 crore doses of Sputnik V in India.

Sputnik V, a human adenoviral vector vaccine candidate, is the world’s first registered Covid vaccine. It is reported to be getting into phase-3 trials in multiple countries from this month. Scientists have raised doubts about Sputnik V’s efficacy given Russian President Vladimir Putin announced its development to the world without its data being published. Recently, ‘Lancet’ said that two trials of the vaccine in June and July involving 76 participants showed that all the participants developed antibodies to the novel coronavirus without any serious side effects.