Panacea Biotec begins production of Sputnik V vaccine

India’s Panacea Biotec has started producing Sputnik V, the Russian COVID-19 vaccine.

The first batch produced by the company’s facility in Baddi will be shipped to the Gamaleya Center in Russia for quality control. Full-scale production is due to start this summer, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Panacea said in a joint statement on Monday.

RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev said, “production of Sputnik V supports efforts of India’s authorities to leave behind the acute phase of coronavirus as soon as possible, while the vaccine will also be exported at a later stage to help prevent the spread of the virus in other countries around the world.”

A company spokesperson said the initial output from Panacea was likely to be earmarked for the global markets. However, discussions were under way to explore the possibility of supplying the vaccine in India, he said, adding that it was still too early to specify the timeline and the quantity likely to be supplied to the domestic market.

RDIF, which is Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, has been funding and forming alliances globally for production and distribution of the vaccine. RDIF and Panacea had in April announced a partnership for production of 100 million doses.

Panacea managing director Rajesh Jain said initiation of Sputnik V production by the company marked a significant step. “Together with RDIF, we hope to help bring a sense of normalcy back to people across the country and around the world,” he said. The company’s facilities comply with GMP standards and are pre-qualified by WHO, the company said.

India had in April accorded emergency use authorisation for the two-dose Sputnik V. The vaccine is based on the human adenoviral vectors platform and two different vectors are used for the two doses.

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