Mexican authorities have seized a shipment of purported Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines from a private airplane bound for Honduras, which Russia says were fake doses.
The batch of 1,155 vials containing the equivalent of 5,775 doses was hidden inside two coolers aboard the plane at an airport in the southern state of Campeche, the customs agency said late Wednesday.
The Honduran crew and passengers were referred to the attorney general’s office, the statement said.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which financed the Sputnik V vaccine’s development, thanked Mexico for seizing what it described as an illegal shipment of fake Sputnik V vaccines.
“Analysis of the photographs of the seized batch, including the design of containers and labels, suggests that it is a fake substance which has nothing to do with the original vaccine,” it said in a statement.
“The shipment’s procedure was also in violation of packaging and transportation protocols for the official Sputnik V vaccine,” it added.
RDIF said that each vial of the real vaccine has a unique code to enable it to be traced to its place of origin.
It said the fake batch was “possibly aimed at discrediting” the Sputnik V vaccine.
Mexico, whose known Covid-19 death toll of around 196,000 is the third highest in the world, received the first shipment of 200,000 Sputnik V doses last month.
Mexico to Test Russia’s Coronavirus Vaccine
Mexico will receive at least 2,000 doses of Russia’s candidate coronavirus vaccine as part of the injection’s Phase 3 clinical trials, Mexico’s foreign minister said Thursday.
Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told Russia’s ambassador Wednesday that Mexico wanted to conduct trials of Russia’s “Sputnik V” Covid-19 vaccine, which President Vladimir Putin says is the first in the world to be registered. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Monday that he would be among the first to receive Sputnik V if it’s proven to be effective.
“Mexico was offered at least 2,000 doses of the vaccine to do its protocol to start testing it in Mexico, which is very good news because again we buy ourselves time,” Ebrard said, according to Reuters.
Mexico announced a deal last week with British-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca to manufacture its vaccine currently under development if clinical trials show it to be effective. The Latin American country is also readying to conduct late-stage trials of the Covid-19 vaccine for Johnson & Johnson and two Chinese companies.
Sputnik V’s developers previously said that it will be tested in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and other countries.
Russia’s sovereign wealth fund which finances the Sputnik V project said Thursday that clinical trials will begin next week and involve more than 40,000 people in Russia.
More than 20 countries have made requests to purchase over 1 billion doses of the vaccine, the fund’s head said, adding that Russia had agreements with several countries to produce it.