Of the at least 36 vaccine candidates tracked by the World Health Organization (WHO) targeting COVID-19, a batch of leading candidates either comes from Germany, The UK, the United States, China, and two from India, including Bharat Biotech International and Cadila Healthcare. India’s Serum Institute has entered into a deal with AstraZeneca to manufacture the “Oxford” vaccine while now Russia enters the Indian market to discuss that country’s embrace of Sputnik V, the world’s first “registered” COVID-19 vaccine product. The Wall Street Journal recently summarized Russia’s ambitious business development efforts scouring the globe hunting down Sputnik V vaccine deals. Evidence of discussions in India surfaced recently; India’s Department of Biotechnology is in exploratory discussions with the Russian government to potentially co-develop Sputnik V.
As recently reported by the Deccan Herald and a number of other Indian press, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey informed the lower house of India’s bicameral Parliament (The Lok Shabha) that Indian health agencies are in discussions with Russia. More specifically, the Department of Biotechnology, under the Ministry of Science and Technology, is contemplating a development partnership with the Russian government in regards to the already registered Sputnik V.
Earlier this month, Russia had already offered a deal and India was weighing such an offer, reported The Hindu. According to reports a few weeks ago, NITI Aayog member V.K. Paul commented, “The government of India attaches great importance to this offer of partnership from a friend.” NITI Aayog is a policy think tank of the Government of India.
Scouring the Planet for Deals
Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Georgi Kantchev recently reported that prospective Sputnik V vaccine deals were seemingly surfacing in nearly all corners of the globe. TrialSite has emphasized the rushed nature of this vaccine and the ethical and moral implications underpinning the process, let alone the product. For more, see the link for details as to how short cuts have possibly been taken as well as what appears to be mass human challenge testing.
On the other hand, preliminary data looks promising as reported in The Lancet, so ultimately if the product turns out to be safe and efficacious then the world wins.
But vaccine development, all things being equal, is a complex endeavor and TrialSite, while reporting on the clear patterns emerging between West (safety focus) and East (expediency first), suggested it’s better to be safe than sorry. The World Health Organization has suggested Russia slow down. Only time, data and results will tell.