Low supply keeping Sputnik vax out of govt drive: Dr N K Aro
Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine may not be available in government vaccination sites till supplies increase substantially, Dr N K Arora, chairman of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, told TOI. So far, only a few lakh doses have been made available in India. Sputnik V uses two different adenoviruses as the viral vectors — adenovirus 26 (Ad26) for the first shot and adenovirus 5 (Ad5) for the second.

The manufacturing of the second dose is a slow process because the virus grows very slowly. Hence, supplies have been delayed. Several private hospitals have run out of even the vaccine’s first doses, sources in hospitals in Pune told on Wednesday. More first doses will be made available only when supplies of the second shot are ramped up, said Arora.

“Sputnik V’s availability so far in India is not high enough to incorporate the vaccine in the government’s free vaccination programme. Only when the availability increases, a system along with cold storage can be worked out,” said Arora. The vaccine has to be stored at -18 degrees C till half an hour before administration for stability and potency.

Apart from Russia, only India is currently manufacturing the vaccine. “Dr Reddy’s, which launched Sputnik V on a pilot basis in India, has been trying to resolve the second dose issue over the last two-three months. We are given to understand that they will make headway soon,” said Arora.

People who want to take Sputnik V are complaining about the delay. They said hospitals that earlier had stock, are now rescheduling appointments due to supply constraints. “Sputnik V has a 21-day gap between the first and second doses. Many want to get this vaccine because fully vaccinated people have been given access to a host of relaxations,” said software engineer Vaibhav Heddurshetti.