The developers of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine said Monday they had reached production agreements in key European countries as the EU’s medical agency deliberates official approval for the Russian jab.
The head of Russia’s Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Kirill Dmitriev said in a statement that his organization had secured “agreements with companies from Italy, Spain, France and Germany to launch production of Sputnik V.”
Dmitriev said the deals would allow for the supply of Sputnik to the European market “once the approval is granted by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).”
If approved Sputnik would become the first non-Western coronavirus jab to be certified for use across the 27-nation bloc.
The EMA launched a rolling review of Sputnik V earlier this month, but several EU countries have already begun distributing it.
Hungary approved Sputnik V in February and began using it as part of its vaccine rollout, while the Czech Republic and Slovakia have also ordered doses and say they will not wait for EMA approval.
According to the vaccine’s developers, Sputnik V has been registered in more than 50 countries.
Russia registered Sputnik V last August ahead of large-scale clinical trials, sparking concern among some experts at home and abroad over the fast-track process.
Leading medical journal The Lancet last month published results showing the jab to be safe and over 90% effective.
The RDIF said Monday that 3.5 million people in Russia have received both doses of Sputnik V.
Russia Says Registers Third Coronavirus Vaccine
Moscow announced Saturday it had registered its third vaccine against the coronavirus and promised to introduce the jab to the Russian population by March.
Russia was the first country to register a vaccine against Covid-19 in August ahead of clinical trials, and the Sputnik V jab has been authorised in more than two dozen countries around the world.
“Today we note that a third vaccine, CoviVac, has been registered,” Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said at a government meeting broadcast on state television.
“And already in mid-March, the first 120,000 doses will be distributed within the civilian circulation,” he told the cabinet.
First greeted with scepticism, the effectiveness of Sputnik V was confirmed by the Lancet medical journal earlier this month.
Moscow relied on the nationwide rollout of the vaccine to stave off the impact of a second wave of infections that battered the country late last year.
But mortality data released recently revealed that Russia’s death rate was still one of the highest in the world.
President Vladimir Putin announced in October that the country had registered its second vaccine, EpiVacCorona, which health officials had said would enter mass production this month.
Mishustin said Saturday that Russia had produced 10 million doses of Sputnik and 80,000 batches of the EpiVacCorona vaccine developed by the Siberian Vektor laboratory.
With the introduction of the third jab Saturday, the prime minister said that: “Today Russia is the only country in which there are already three vaccines for the prevention of Covid infection.”
CoviVac was produced by the state-run Chumakov Centre based in Moscow, which employed a different method of development from Sputnik and EpiVacCorona, using an inactive virus.
The vaccine is due to complete final stage clinical trial with 3,000 participants in March and has so far been recommended for people below the age of 60.