05:16 GMT28 January 2021
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    The Russian vaccine created at the Gamaleya Research Centre in Moscow is being rolled out internationally in the race to control the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the chief executive of Russia's sovereign wealth fund said on Thursday.

    The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) plans to expand its operations and increase the rollout of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine across the globe amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, RDIF Chief Executive Kirill Dmitriev said at the REUTERS NEXT Summit on Thursday.

    When asked by Sputnik about the RDIF's plans, Dmitriev said that Sputnik V was being manufactured in four countries – Russia, India, South Korea, and Brazil – with the capacity to innoculate 500m people.

    The RDIF also plans to expand its footprint in an additional seven countries, with efforts to work with the United States launched in August, shortly after the vaccine's approval and registration.

    Russia was also the first to propose a partnership with the creators of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to provide doses of Sputnik V along with its British-Swedish counterpart, and is set to announce cooperation with Chinese vaccine manufacturers.

    Russia's inoculation approach is "focused on partnership," especially after the emergence of new COVID-19 strains around the world – the situation has become nearly "ten times" more serious, Dmitriev said.

    "We need to have vaccines above and beyond politics. We need to be partners in this, and forget about anti-Russian, anti-European or anti-American cliches. and really work together as humanity to solve this issue, and we are completely committed to this partnership approach," Dmitriev added.

    Speaking about Latin America, the RDIF head said that Sputnik V was chosen due to its approach via a "safe adenoviral platform that has been tested for decades in more than 250 clinical trials," with efficacy rates of over 90 percent.

    But Latin American partners are not concerned about politics, but rather the efficiency of vaccines, he said.

    Sputnik V is easier to transport than other vaccines due to the fact it can be stored at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, compared to the -70 degrees Celsius required by other vaccines. It also minimises "strong allergic reactions," while costing 50 to 70 percent less than its foreign counterparts.

    The vaccine has been successful in Argentina and it's also been registered in Bolivia and Venezuela, Dmitriev said, adding that he expected Mexico to sign up soon.

    Outside of the LatAm market,  Israel, Palestine, Serbia, and Belarus have also ordered Sputnik V, and a further nine countries – from the Middle East, North Africa (MENA), Latin America, and Asia – are expected to do the same by the end of January. 

    "Once again, we've come a long way from being the first COVID vaccine in the world to being registered in many markets [globally], and what's important is that we have and can supply vaccines right now in January and February," he said.

    Another eight other countries are set to receive the Sputnik V jab by the end of the first quarter, accounting for around 25 percent of the global market share outside of Russia, he said, citing RDIF estimates.

    Potential Registration in the European Union

    When asked by Reuters Bureau Chief of Russian and CIS, Andrew Osbourne, if Russia expected the EU to approve Sputnik V for use in the Eurozone, he said "politics will play a role" in ongoing talks.

    But transparency was key to the approval process, Dmitriev explained, citing a scientific review application filed on 22 October, upcoming talks on 19 January, and further document submissions to the European Medicines Agency in February.

    Russia will also share data with the EU on trials of roughly 33,000 people, as well as findings on Sputnik V from the United Arab Emirates, India, Venezuela, and Belarus.

    A French COVID delegation had also advised Russian authorities at the Gamaleya Centre in recent weeks, Dmitriev said, adding that phone talks between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin, along with the German Health Ministry and other organisations, had also taken place.

    "The predicament of the world right now is that there are not enough vaccines in the world. Russia's vaccine is one of the best, and we would be happy to provide all the information to the European regulators," the RDIF chief executive said.

    Fake News, Storytelling by Western Media On Sputnik V

    Speaking about the Western media, Dmitriev said that some reports had gone beyond "fake facts" and had turned into "fake storytelling," with sources attempting to find "a new angle of attack" from August last year.

    "So, even before the vaccine was registered, there were attacks [that it] had been stolen, [or that] it wasn't efficient. But what we've always done is, over the last four to five months, answered all questions," he said, citing data from previous studies. 

    Dmitriev added that allegations of a struggle between domestic and foreign vaccine rollouts revealed that some Western reports were attempting to block Russian efforts to work with other nations "by raising concerns over domestic supply."

    "They will fail, just as they failed with the over 60 fake narratives we have seen since August. Every time, it's a new angle and attempt to constrain Russia. And they will fail, because we will supply Russian regions and the Russian government is doing so, and we believe that all the people that want to get vaccinated [can do so] in the next four to five months," he said.

    The REUTERS NEXT summit is taking place 11-14 January and is one of the largest such events in the world, bringing together nearly 25,000 journalist, business executives, and world leaders to discuss business, politics, tech, and media.

    Past speakers have included European Central Bank president Christine Lagard, Chevron CEO Mike Wirth, internet creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee, US economist Jeffrey Sachs, World Bank president David Malpass, and many others.


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