(Bloomberg) – Russia will not meet its goal of producing 30 million doses of its experimental vaccine against Covid-19 this year, due to setbacks to maintain serum stability while expanding production.
“The main task is to increase production,” said Russian Industry Minister Denis Manturov, in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “Having 30 million doses by the end of the year is impossible, it is absurd.”
The Kremlin has placed high hopes on the Sputnik V vaccine, which President Vladimir Putin promotes as the first registered in the world to help make Russia a leader in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. The name of the vaccine is a reference to the world’s first artificial satellite launched by the Soviet Union in 1957.
The vaccine, developed by the Moscow Gamaleya Epidemiology and Microbiology Research Institute in Moscow, the Ministry of Defense and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), has been approved for public use despite being currently in phase 3 trials. to determine if it is safe and effective.
RDIF’s chief executive, Kirill Dmitriev, said in July that the fund was aiming to produce 30 million doses in 2020.
With a second wave of coronavirus cases in Russia, the Kremlin needs the vaccine while trying to control the rise in daily cases and prevent a repeat of national confinement in the spring that has affected the country’s economy.
Russia has recorded more than 1.3 million cases, the fourth largest number in the world, after the USA, India and Brazil, and released a record 14,231 new cases on Wednesday.
RDIF says more than 50 countries have shown interest in Sputnik V, with orders for 1.2 billion doses.
However, increasing the production of the vaccine proves more difficult than expected. Manturov said that Russia will have produced 40,000 doses by the end of this month, with the maximum possible of 2.3 million by the New Year. Monthly production could exceed 10 million doses at the beginning of next year, he said.
“We believe these are very conservative projections and we see the potential to produce 10 million doses of vaccines in December,” said an RDIF spokesman. “In addition, a significant part of the production will be carried out in India, China, Korea, Brazil and other countries.”
Putin said at a government meeting on Wednesday that other countries must account for their own production, even if Russia promotes its vaccines against Covid-19 abroad. He also announced the approval of another vaccine before testing the finals.
Manturov defended Sputnik V, which was questioned by international medical professionals that the vaccine needs further testing to prove that it is safe and that it provides immunity against the virus. Manturov said he and members of his family, including his 84-year-old mother, got the vaccine.
Putin has not been vaccinated, the minister said.