Indicating that the pricing of the locally manufactured Sputnik V doses would be below $10, he said: “Even the imported one we are trying to see that it does not exceed $10 per dose. It (pricing) will be crystalised very soon. For the Indian manufactured one, we have to talk to the government as there is public procurement and there is a private market and all that.”
Prasad also said that while the company had internally set a target to roll out Sputnik V in India in June, efforts are underway to speed up imports and target May.
“We will try for May, but June is when it is likely to happen as we have to agree on the supply schedule with RDIF (Russian Direct Investment Fund) as well as the pricing. We have already tied up the cold chain and logistics. We are also talking to the Central Research Institute at Kasauli to do the testing (of vaccine batches) fast so that there won’t be a bottleneck,” he explained.
On the number of doses to be imported from Russia, the Dr Reddy’s top honcho said the agreement with RDIF was for 125 million people equivalent doses. He indicated that over and above the tie-ups with six Indian manufacturers, other manufacturers too may be roped in to ramp up Sputnik V capacities further.
While RDIF has tied up with Gland Pharma (252 m), Hetero Biopharma (100 million), Virchow Biotech (200 m), Panacea Biotech (100 m) and Stelis Biopharma (200 m) , which translates into 426 million people equivalent doses, Dr Reddy’s has a tie-up with Shilpa Medicare for an undisclosed number of doses.
When asked whether those opting for Sputnik V will need to go for booster shots, he said extensive research is underway to ascertain not just how long the immune response evoked by the Russian vaccine lasts, but also the possibility of a single shot version in addition to the nasal variant.
“The longevity (of the immune response) has not yet been finalised. They are doing a lot of research. They are working on a one single shot kind of possibility or a third booster shot every year possibility. But speculation is that we will need a booster shot every year,” he said.
On Remdesivir, he said like all other companies Dr Reddy’s Laboratories too is ramping up production and the situation should start easing up in a week’s time. “This month I think we should have a lakh vials out. Next month, five lakh vials and we can even cross 5 lakh vials per month,” he said, adding that the company now has three plants activated on Remdesivir production.
On the government’s decision to open up vaccination to all above 18 years of age from May 1 as well as allow sale of vaccines in the private market he said the move was “bold and well thought out” and would give flexibility to leverage the power of the private sector market forces to scale up the vaccination efforts.
“I think it was absolutely the right thing to do. It’s going to make a difference to the country very fast. It’s a big move to open it up (vaccination) and leverage the power of the private sector. Decentralisation is very good and state governments and private companies will now see the power of decentralisation working,” Prasad said, adding that the move to extend financial support to players like SII and Bharat Biotech to ramp up was also very good.