Indian firm Dr. Reddy's eyes Sputnik vaccine exports after domestic struggle

FILE PHOTO: A medical specialist holds a vial of Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus in a department store in Moscow, Russia

By Krishna N. Das

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India's Dr. Reddy's Laboratories is in talks with partners to export domestically made doses of Russia's COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik, after New Delhi recently approved shipments of other shots, the firm said on Monday.

As the main Indian distributor of Sputnik, sold only on the private market, Dr. Reddy's has struggled https://www.reuters.com/world/india/floundering-private-sales-vaccine-india-deal-blow-russias-sputnik-v-2021-09-29 to compete with vaccines that the government distributes free.

It makes up barely 1 million of a national total of 1.2 billion administered doses, while the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India accounts for nearly 90% of that figure, followed by home-grown Covaxin.

Now Dr Reddy's is focusing on the single-dose Sputnik Light, as a booster shot or standalone, instead of the two-dose Sputnik V, a spokesperson said.

“We are also in discussion with our partners to take Sputnik to other countries, mostly in the Asia-Pacific region and in certain countries of Africa, Latin America and Central America,” the spokesperson added in an email.

Last month India resumed exports of COVID-19 vaccines for the first time since it banned shipments in April in a bid to focus on inoculating its own population after infections rocketed.

Dr. Reddy's said it failed to capitalise on India's vaccine demand in the middle of the year because supplies of the second dose of Sputnik V fell short.

Unlike most vaccines, its two doses are different and Indian drugmakers have found it difficult to produce the second one.

“The yields were low, they were not reproducible,” the firm's co-chairman, G.V. Prasad, said in a recent interview. “Usual biological processes – they don't usually behave predictably.”

Prasad said the company was trying to see if it could make the second Sputnik V dose commercially, in what would be its first vaccine production in more than two decades.

(Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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