Russia intends to vaccinate against COVID-19 throughout Latin America, region that is a priority in the development and production of the Sputnik V vaccine, assured Kiril Dmitriev, head of the state fund in charge of signing sales and distribution contracts with other countries.
“We want to save people in Russia, in Latin America and around the world,” said Dmitriev, director of the Fund for Direct Investments of Russia (FIDR), by videoconference.
Since the Russian president, Vladimir Putin will announce the registration of the first coronavirus vaccine in August, Latin American countries, which are among the most affected in the world by the coronavirus pandemic, were more interested than anyone in receiving the first doses.
A VACCINE WITHOUT IDEOLOGY
In response, Russia opted for Latin America as a platform not only for the sale of Sputnik V, but also for clinical analysis, technology transfer and joint production. “Latin America is a priority. First because its countries are friends of Russia and second because Latin America is open to an honest analysis of the Russian vaccine”, explains Dmitriev.
He recalled that the appearance of the vaccine aroused “great enthusiasm” in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, while some countries in what he called the “Western world” reacted with “great envy.”
He was referring to statements such as that of the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who assured that in the field of health, “there should be no ideologies” and that, if the efficacy of the Russian vaccine is confirmed, he would be the first to put it on.
Dmitriev believes it was crucial the fact that Russian medicine is based on human adenoviruses, making Sputnik V an “organic vaccine”, and not mono or mRNA adenovirus vectors, which “are poorly studied”.
“It is a vaccine that lived in our ancestors 100,000 years. When they understood what differentiates our approach (…), we saw great interest on the part of Latin American countries,” he said.
Now other countries have jumped on the Russian vaccine bandwagon, but the senior official emphasizes that Latin American countries are “a very important partner”, contributing to the fact that “historically” relations between governments and peoples have always been “very good”.
DEMAND FOR 400 MILLION DOSES
As an example, Dmitriev advanced that the demand for the Russian vaccine on the continent today amounts to 400 million doses, about half of the world total. “That figure of 400 million doses is very significant compared to the more than one billion in demand worldwide,” he said.
Explained that 100 million doses correspond to the agreements signed in recent days with Brazil and Mexico, but that new contracts with countries in the region will be announced next week. “There is great interest from Venezuela, but also from other countries. Some countries say it publicly and many others do not, but they are working closely with us,” he said.
Dmitriev stressed that “almost all Latin American countries” have contacted Moscow, which has provided them with the results of phases one and two of the vaccine to clear up doubts.
According to the Russian press, they are also very interested in cooperating with the Russian sovereign wealth fund Argentina and Peru, countries also hit hard by the pandemic.
BRAZIL AND MEXICO, THE PIONEERS
Russia has set its sights on the two most populated countries on the continent: Brazil, the third country in the world with the most cases of coronavirus (more than 4.2 million), and Mexico, the seventh on the list (more than 650,000) behind from Russia, Peru and Colombia.
“Brazil is a strategic partner for Russia. We do not propose to produce the vaccine and also carry out clinical analyzes” in its territory, he stressed and specified that the corresponding agreements have already been signed.
The one signed with Paraná, which has also engaged with Russia and China to experiment with the vaccine in humans, contemplates the transfer of technology.
In the case of Mexico, he admitted that there is still no definitive agreement for joint production, although Moscow has signed a contract with the pharmaceutical company Lansteiner Scientific for 32 million doses, which will allow it to supply a quarter of the country’s population.
VACCINATION IN NOVEMBER
Dmitriev is optimistic about timing and predicts that “some Latin American countries” will receive Sputnik V already “in November.”
He specifies that everything is at the expense of the approval of the regulators of each one of the countries, although he believes that, by December at the latest, “many countries” will be able to vaccinate their population.
“That is why we are increasing the pace of work, to increase production and be able to distribute large volumes of doses” before the end of the year, he says.
The head of the FIDR, who has received orders from thirty countries with half the planet’s population, estimates that this year more than 200 million doses of the Russian vaccine will be produced abroad, a figure that in 2021 will exceed 500 millions.
In addition, he stressed that the 40,000 volunteers needed to complete the third phase of clinical analysis have already been recruited, the first results of which will be known in October.
END OF THE COLD WAR
He believes that the Cold War that was unleashed with the Russian vaccine registration is coming to an end. “We see a very important change in the position of the countries. For the whole world it is evidence that the attacks against the Russian vaccine did not result successful and many of our rivals have had to recognize that the Russian vaccine is one of the best, “he says.
It highlights that Western experts have been able to verify in the scientific journal “The Lancet” that the Russian drug has no “side effects” and generates a “very high” immune level.
Dmitriev believes that Russia’s rivals have realized that the monkey adenovirus was not a good start and now Chinese and American companies have also opted for the human adenovirus, a much “safer” and “studied” platform.
“They have understood the difference. Here in Russia, a combination of factors was produced: great scientists and the Ebola vaccine that we were able to quickly modify and develop a vaccine against the coronavirus,” he stresses.
In his opinion, Russia “was in the right place at the right time.” “For this reason, we have, from our point of view, the best vaccine in the world,” he said.