Floundering private sales of vaccines in India deal blow to Russia’s Sputnik V

NEW DELHI: Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has been cancelled by some of India’s private hospitals as they struggle to sell COVID-19 shots amid surging supplies of free doses of other vaccines offered by the government.

Jitendra Oswal, a senior medical official at Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical College and Hospital in the western city of Pune said, “With storage and everything, we have cancelled our order for 2,500 doses”. Also, some industry officials said the extremely cold storage temperatures required and low demand have spurred at least three big hospitals to cancel orders for Sputnik V, sold only on the private market in the world’s biggest producer of vaccines.

Sputnik V needs to be stored at a temperature of -18 degrees Celsius which is impossible to guarantee in most of India. Moreover, the vaccine is also as much as 47% more expensive than AstraZeneca on the private market. India is a major production centre of Sputnik V, with planned capacity of about 850 million shots a year and low domestic uptake mean higher exports. Therefore, “Demand is also not great. There is a class of people, barely 1%, that wanted to go for Sputnik. For the rest, anything would do.”

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