Indian Hospitals Cancels Russia’s Sputnik V Orders
New Delhi: Some of India’s private hospitals have cancelled orders for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine as they struggle to sell COVID-19 shots amid surging supplies of free doses of other vaccines offered by the government.
Some industry officials said low demand and the extremely cold storage temperatures required have spurred at least three big hospitals to cancel orders for Sputnik V, which is sold only on the private market in the world’s biggest producer of vaccines.
“With storage and everything, we have cancelled our order for 2,500 doses,” said Jitendra Oswal, a senior medical official at Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical College and Hospital in the western city of Pune.
“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.”
From May until last week, private hospitals doled out just about 6% of all vaccines administered in India, although the government had freed them to buy up to a quarter of domestic output, Health Ministry data shows.
India is a major production centre of Sputnik V, with planned capacity of about 850 million shots a year, and low domestic uptake could mean higher exports instead, a step backers are already pushing for. The health ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Since a June launch event by Indian distributor Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd, only 943,000 doses of Sputnik V have been administered by hospitals, a fraction of the national total of more than 876 million. Dr Reddy’s declined to comment.
The mainstay of India’s inoculation drive is the AstraZeneca vaccine, which can be stored in regular refrigerators, unlike Sputnik V, which needs temperatures of -18 degrees Celsius (-0.4 degrees Farhenheit), impossible to guarantee in most of India.
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