The Centre is in discussions with Russia to pave the way for phase-3 trials and scale up the manufacture of the Sputnik V vaccine for coronavirus developed by Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute in India, V K Paul, member-health, NITI Aayog said on Tuesday.
“The Government of India attaches great importance to this offer of a partnership from a friend, who is a very special friend to this nation...Outreach has been extended to several companies in India and many have come forward,” he said while addressing a briefing on Covid situation in India.
Paul said that Russia had sought India’s help to scale up manufacturing through the domestic network of vaccine makers and finding a partner to undertake the phase three trial or any bridging study required to take the vaccine forward.
“On both the tracks there has been significant movement. It is a win-win situation for India and the world,” Paul added.
He also said that Indian scientists have studied the Russian vaccine data and assessed a need for a phase three trial which can be facilitated by the government as per the regulatory system of India.
The Serum Institute of India of Pune will also undertake phase-3 trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine next week on 1,600 candidates across 17 sites. The Indian company has a capacity to manufacture 75-100 million doses of the vaccine per month, according to the government.
India, now the second highest coronavirus-affected country, has reached a total of 4,280,422 cases and 72,775 deaths. On Monday the country registered 1,133 deaths, highest in a single day since July.
“The numbers have not stabilised, but it is also because we are testing liberally,” Paul said.
While the fatality rate has come down from 2.15 per cent in the first week of August to 1.7 per cent in September, cases per million have risen from 2,792 to 3,102 in the past five days. The global average of cases per million population is 3,527.
The virus has now spread to most parts of the country, including the Andamans and Nicobar Island, where there are 312 active cases so far. Health ministry has said that tests were conducted among the Onge and Jarawas tribes which are among the particularly vulnerable tribal groups and no negative result was found.
However there are 15 active cases among the Nicobarese people who are a scheduled tribe. Six were found infected among the Great Andamanese but have now recovered.