A government official said on Tuesday that the Russian government contacted the Indian government for mass-manufacturing of Sputnik V vaccine (COVID-19 vaccine).

"As far as Sputnik V vaccine (COVID-19 vaccine developed in Russia) is concerned, both India and Russia are in communication. Some initial information has been shared while some detailed information is awaited," Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary said on Tuesday responding to a question on whether the Russian government has placed any formal request for the manufacturing of its Sputnik V vaccine in India.

The Vaccine and Research and Development Taskforce co-chaired by Dr Vinod Paul (Member of the Niti Aayog and Professor Vijayraghavan who is Principal Scientific Advisor) will examine the suggestions for potential collaborations on vaccine development.

The committee, with inputs from members, particularly the Department of Biotechnology and the ICMR, will examine the information on the matter and will link potential collaborators where robust and value-added collaborations are feasible and meaningful," said a government official.

"More than 40,000 people in 45 medical centres are participating in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter clinical study of the efficacy, immunogenicity, and safety of the Sputnik V vaccine in Russia, simultaneously with the vaccination of volunteers from risk groups," Russian researchers had said during an online press briefing last week.

When asked about any plans for a joint venture with Indian pharma companies, Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said: "Yes, production of the vaccine is an important issue, we look to Indian drug producers to co-partner as we believe India is capable of producing Gamaleya Institute vaccine and it is important to say that these partnerships should produce a vaccine that enables us to cover the demand that we have received."

Researchers from Gamaleya National Institute has said that the vaccine has not produced any 'unforeseen or unwanted side effects' on the volunteers, adding that 'not a single participant of the current clinical trials got infected with COVID-19.'   

It is to be noted that Russia announced the world's first COVID-19 vaccine, and it has been developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, along with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

The vaccine has received a registration certificate from the Russian Ministry of Health on August 11 and under emergency rules adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic can be used to vaccinate the population in Russia.

The vaccine consists of two shots that use different adenoviruses versions.

As Russia announced the arrival of a new COVID-19 vaccine in the market, the declaration raised alarms in the scientific community as global health experts are finding it hard to trust the claims in the absence of full trial data. 

According to a report by Reuters, immunologists and infectious disease experts say the step by Russia to claim the first spot in the global race to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 could be a "reckless" step.

The report quoted Francois Balloux, an expert at University College London`s Genetics Institute, who called it "a reckless and foolish decision".

Meanwhile, Germany also called into question the quality and safety of the coronavirus vaccine launched by Russia.

"There is no known data on the quality, efficacy, and safety of the Russian vaccine." a health ministry spokeswoman told German newspaper network RND.

(With ANI inputs)

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