Sputnik V, a vaccine with 91.6 per cent efficacy — the highest among Covid vaccines available in India — requires a temperature range of -18 degrees C to -22 degrees C to remain stable.
Deepak Sapra, CEO (API and Pharmaceutical Services), DRL, said they have already tested the cold chain infrastructure in India through simulations. “We have tested the cold chain in simulation scenarios — from Hyderabad to as far as Manipur in the north-east, Ladakh in the north, and Tamil Nadu in south,” Sapra told reporters on Wednesday.
He added that Sputnik V would be imported in the frozen form from Russia this quarter. DRL is responsible for ensuring that the vaccine remains stable and sanctity of the cold chain maintained — from the manufacturing site in Russia to its cold chain point and eventually to all parts of India — the company said. “We have lined up a solution of compact boxes, using which the vaccine would be transported to various parts of India easily through a combination of air and road transport,” Sapra explained.
DRL will leverage the existing government cold chain infrastructure used in the national immunisation mission as well as its own cold chain capabilities, he added. “We already have experience in cold chain handling for our critical care products, like oncology. We will leverage that too,” Sapra said.
Meanwhile, stability data for the Sputnik V variant that will remain stable at 2-8 degrees C is being generated. “This will take a few more months. After that, we will approach the regulator again to modify the storage condition requirements to 2-8 degrees C. That will make the process of storage and transportation a lot easier,” Sapra said.
As of now, DRL’s contract with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) is for 250 million doses for India. However, there is an option to increase the number of doses.
While the target is to produce 60-70 per cent in India, it will be imported from Russia at present, as long as the Indian sites — Hetero, Virchow, Panacea, Gland, Stelis, Shilpa — can peak their production of the vaccine.
Together, the Indian sites have over 850 million doses in annual capacity, and more partners are likely to be added soon.
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