Russia produces large-scale experimental COVID-19 vaccine-wealth fund

Russia plans to produce 30 million doses of the experimental COVID-19 vaccine this year, with another 170 million to be produced abroad, the head of the country's sovereign treasury told Reuters.

The first human trial of the vaccine, a month-long trial on 38 people, ended this week. The researchers concluded that it is safe to use and stimulates the immune response, although the strength of that response is not yet clear.

Kirill Dmitry, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), said a large-scale investigation involving several thousand people would begin in August.

"Based on the current results, we believe it will be approved in Russia in August and in a few more countries in September ..., which may be the first vaccine approved in the world," he said in an interview.

More than 100 potential vaccines are being developed to prevent infection. According to the World Health Organization, there are at least two final Phase III human tests - one developed by China's Synoform and the other by Astrogenica and Oxford University.

Producers are also caught up with the question of how to mass-produce to meet global needs.

Dmitriz said the Russian Phase III trial will be held at home and in two Middle Eastern countries, with the second phase of the 100-second trial starting on August 3.

"Russia is in talks with Saudi Arabia as a manufacturing site and manufacturing partner," he told a news conference.

The Gamalaya Institute of Moscow, which developed the vaccine for the Russian candidate, produces doses for clinical trials, while Allium R-Farms, a private pharmaceutical company that is part of the Sistema Group, operates and bottling.

Both are updating their lab setup to go into production in the next few months, Dimitriz said.

"There is a general knowledge in Russia that you have to vaccinate 40 million to 50 million so-called herd immunizations," he told Reuters.

"So we are confident that we will produce about 30 million (dose domestically) this year and finalize the vaccine next year."

Dmitry said Russia has signed manufacturing agreements with five other countries, which could produce 170 million doses overseas this year.

He declined to say where details were provided on the prices, but said Latin America, the Middle East and other countries were interested in importing the vaccine.

Russia has signed an agreement with AstraZeneca, a manufacturer of the drug called AZD1222, over its potential COVID-19 vaccine. "We hope that one of our portfolio companies will also work ... on the production of the estrogen vaccine in Russia," Dimitrik said.

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