Russia says ‘looking forward’ to partner with Egypt in producing COVID-19 vaccine

The Russian ambassador to Cairo, Georgiy Borisenko, announced Wednesday that Moscow is looking forward to establishing a partnership with Egypt to produce the newly developed Russian coronavirus vaccine “Sputnik”.

In an interview with Middle East News Agency (MENA), Borisenko said that Egypt is a strategic partner and coordination is being made cooperate with it in various fields.

Borisenko added that the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) is responsible for producing and distributing the vaccine abroad and is ready to discuss requests and transfer technology to Egypt.

The Russian Embassy in Cairo has informed the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Health and Population about the possibility of conducting bilateral negotiations on this issue and provided them with all the necessary information, he added.

The ambassador was happy with a positive evaluation from Egypt’s ambassador to Moscow, Ihab Nasr regarding the new Russian vaccine, and expressed his belief that this vaccine could be the basis for developing further relations between Egypt and Russia.

Borisenko said that the RDIF has allocated US$45 million in additional funding to discover a coronavirus vaccine, which took the Gamaleya Research Institute in Russia five months to develop.

The Russian vaccine is the first to be officially registered among the 165 different vaccines being developed across the globe, he noted.

Pointing out the significance of the vaccine’s name, Borisenko explained that it represents the same global impact that the first Russian satellite (Sputnik) had when it was launched by the Soviet Union in 1957.

These two accomplishments have contributed to the development of global science, he said, which is why the vaccine was named “Sputnik Five.”

Borisenko added that preclinical studies on this drug showed its ability to protect animals from deadly infection from COVID-19.

This vaccine was tested in two stages of clinical trials on two groups of 38 volunteers, including the head of the Gamaleya Research Institute and one of President Vladimir Putin’s daughters.

“We did not find any evidence of unexpected side effects after the conclusion of the experiments, and it showed high efficiency to support basic and booster immunization, and the vaccine provoked strong antibodies and a cellular immune response, and none of the volunteers developed COIVD-19 after the experiments,” he added.

The third phase of clinical trials has started in Russia, he said, where tests will be conducted on more than 2,000 volunteers in Russia and abroad.

Trials are scheduled to start in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines in late August.

Borisenko said that a minor evolution in the coronavirus will not  pose any threat to any vaccine because it will deal with it, and the vaccine can be modified in the event of a large mutation.

He explained that the first batches of the vaccine will be produced during the next two weeks, and will be distributed to health workers in hospitals.

Borisenko added that the second phase of the vaccine aims to protect the health of teachers and the elderly, and it is anticipated that the vaccination will be on a voluntary basis for all ages and professions.

The next three to five months will see the vaccine tested children, which will be made available to them after confirming its safety, he said.

The vaccine will be produced following the last phase of trials in other countries under the RDIF, which has established partnerships with local sovereign funds in India, South Korea, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Cuba to coordinate production in these countries.

He explained that the plan aims to increase production to 200 million doses by the end of 2020, including 30 million doses in Russia.

At least 20 countries have expressed interest in obtaining the Russian vaccine, including the UAE, Indonesia, the Philippines and Mexico. The RDIF is working on a program to distribute the vaccine as humanitarian aid in some developing countries.

“The Russian vaccine is facing a well-coordinated and well-planned media attack aimed at discrediting it and restricting the correct path for our scientists in developing an anti-COVID-19 drug. This politicized position against the vaccine endangers the lives of our citizens,” Borisenko said.

“Russia is not seeking to achieve high income and the reason behind the rapid pace of development and registration of this vaccine is the need to protect our citizens and other people from the negative consequences of the potential new waves of the Coronavirus,” he added.

Edited translation from MENA

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