India's Dr. Reddy's to get 36 mln doses of Sputnik V vaccine in next few months

BENGALURU, May 14 (Reuters) - Indian drugmaker Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd said on Friday it expects to get 36 million doses of Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine in the next couple of months under its contract with Russia’s sovereign wealth fund.

India’s catastrophic second wave of the pandemic has led to huge demand for vaccines, which in turn has left the country, the world’s biggest vaccine producer, low on stocks.

“We are in discussions with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to import the vaccine towards the end of May,” a senior Dr. Reddy’s executive said on a post-earnings press conference.

“Our total commitment contracted from RDIF is 250 million doses, of which the initial 15%-20% is expected through imports,” the executive, M V Ramana, added.

The company expects to use the doses to vaccinate 125 million people in the next 8-12 months. As of Friday, India had vaccinated just over 2.9% of its population of about 1.35 billion, according to government data.

Sputnik V is a two-dose shot which has been found to be 91.6% effective in preventing people from developing COVID-19, a higher efficacy rate than the two vaccines currently approved in India.

Earlier in the day, Dr. Reddy’s said the first dose of Sputnik V was administered in Hyderabad as part of a limited pilot. The vaccine will be priced at 995 rupees ($13.58) per dose.

The company is also working with six local manufacturing partners to scale up production, with doses for commercial use expected from July.

The drugmaker on Friday reported a 27.6% drop in fourth-quarter consolidated net profit, compared with a year earlier. Revenue, however, rose 6.7%.

$1 = 73.2880 Indian rupees Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel