GMR had earlier received two shipments of Sputnik V vaccines of 150,000 doses each from Russia, imported by the Hyderabad headquartered generic pharmaceutical giant Dr Reddy’s Laboratories.
Sputnik V was developed by Russia’s Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology with the backing of its sovereign Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). Dr Reddy’s, which has the rights to distribute Sputnik V in India, obtained emergency use authorisation in April.
Speaking to the media in St Petersburg last month on the availability of Sputnik V in India, Indian Ambassador to Russia B Venkatesh Varma said, “In June, this number is expected to increase to five million. And the production in India is expected to start in August. By the present plans, over 850 million doses of Sputnik vaccine will be finally produced in India…almost 65-70% of Sputnik produced anywhere in the world will be produced in India. These 850 million doses will be produced finally by say September, October.”
Last month, Russian Envoy to India Nikolai Kudashev also said that 850 million doses of Sputnik V will be produced in India every year.
Sputnik will be produced in India in three phases. First is supply from Russia, fully manufactured in Russia. In the second phase, RDIF and Gamaleya will send the vaccine to India in bulk and in the third phase, the Russian side will transfer the technology to the Indian company and the Indian company will produce it fully in India.
GMR Hyderabad Air Cargo, which claims to have emerged the air cargo hub for vaccine imports into India and handled several import shipments of vaccines earlier, said it is “expanding landside and airside facilities to meet the unique requirements of vaccine import shipments.”
The latest and largest shipment from Russia completed all processes and was dispatched in less than 90 minutes, said GMR, adding that the Sputnik V vaccine requires specialised handling and storage and must be kept at a temperature of minus 20 degree Celsius. The Air Cargo company said it was working closely with experts from the customer’s supply chain team; officials from customs department and other relevant stakeholders over an extended period to ensure infrastructure and handling processes were in place.
Major pharma companies based in and around Hyderabad are expected to produce or import over 3.5 billion doses of different varieties of Covid-19 vaccines over the next couple of years, said the GMR entity, adding that it was “gearing up on all fronts to handle the surge in vaccine shipments.”
Apart from the infrastructural improvements, the GMR Hyderabad Air Cargo has also convened a special task force comprising customs authorities, airlines, freight forwarders and other stakeholders to ensure priority handling and speedy clearances for vaccines and other Covid relief materials such as medicines and oxygen concentrators.