India approves Russia’s Sputnik V for mass use amid second COVID wave and vaccine shortage

India approved Russia’s Sputnik V for use amid a deadly second wave of infections.

The vaccine has been deemed to be safe, and works in a way similar to the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab which is being made in India as Covishield.

Sputnik V gives around 92% protection against Covid-19, late stage trial results published in The Lancet reveal.

India has so far given more than 100 million doses of two approved vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin.

Sputnik V’s approval came as India overtook Brazil to become the country with the second-highest number of cases globally.

With the total case tally of more than 13.5 million cases, India is now only behind the United States which has reported more than 31 million cases. With 13.4 million cases, Brazil is now at number three.

India aims to vaccinate 250 million “priority people” by the end of July. But experts say that the pace of vaccination has been slow and unless the drive is scaled up, the target could be missed.

On Tuesday the government decided to give emergency approvals to vaccines already in use in other countries. It said the decision was taken to “expand the basket of vaccines for domestic use and hasten the pace and coverage of vaccination”.

It added that vaccines that have been approved by regulators in the US, the UK, European Union and Japan would be given fast-track approvals in India. The health ministry added that the first 100 recipients of such vaccines would be monitored for seven days before wider rollout is allowed.

This means that vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna could become available for Indians soon.