Coronavirus: Russia’s Putin pitches COVID-19 vaccine to tycoons as $100 bln chance

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President Vladimir Putin pitched the potential of Russia’s unproven Covid-19 vaccine to a group of top business leaders Wednesday as the country is set to fall short of its production goals.

“I’m calling on entrepreneurs who are engaged in this type of activity to become more involved in this work and ensure the required amount of the Russian vaccine is produced,” Putin said at a meeting of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, state-run RIA Novosti reported.

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Putin told the leaders of the RSPP, as Russia’s biggest business lobby is known, that the Sputnik V vaccine was “good business and the humanitarian component is clear,” adding that it could earn $100 billion in revenue worldwide, RIA reported.

The vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Research Institute and the Russian Direct Investment Fund, has run up against hurdles as drug makers attempt to ramp up production.

RDIF chief Kirill Dmitriev said in July the fund is aiming to produce 30 million doses this year, but while Industry Minister Denis Manturov last week said reaching such a level is “impossible.” He said Russia won’t produce more than 2.3 million by the end of the year. Wednesday, Gamaleya Director Alexander Gintsburg estimated

Russia could produce 5 million to 6 million doses of Sputnik V a month by December, Tass reported.

Russia approved widespread use of the vaccine in August, despite the fact that it is currently undergoing Phase 3 trials to establish its safety and effectiveness. The

Kremlin has pinned great hopes on Sputnik V to project soft power and establish Russia as a global leader in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

RDIF, which is marketing the vaccine globally, says more than 50 countries have expressed interest in Sputnik V, with orders for 1.2 billion doses.

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