Russia has problems with mass production of the corona vaccine

In these days, mass vaccination against the coronavirus should actually begin in Russia. Health Minister Michail Muraschko had promised this at the beginning of October. However, like some of the earlier ones, this date will probably pass without consequences. Because even President Vladimir Putin admitted last week that there are problems with the production of the vaccine “Sputnik V”: It is about the lack of equipment at the production sites for the start of mass production.

Katharina Wagner

Business correspondent for Russia and the CIS based in Moscow.

“Sputnik V” was provisionally approved in Russia in mid-August, even before the crucial third phase of the clinical studies had begun. This had caused indignation among doctors and politicians around the world. The tests on 30,000 volunteers are currently in full swing; the results are not yet publicly known.

Theoretically, the approval could be revoked if the results are poor, but no one expects that: After all, Putin is already praising the “safety” and “effectiveness” of the vaccine and praising the allegedly first vaccine in the world against Covid-19. In mid-October Putin announced the approval of the second Russian vaccine, “Epivakcorona”, of the state laboratory Vektor, which also has to go through the third phase of the clinical studies, which should start in November or December.

Production capacities not prepared in time

But now the lead that Russia has gained through the shortened test phase seems to be disappearing again. Because while large vaccine projects in other countries have long been producing their vaccines in parallel to clinical studies so that large quantities are available immediately in the event of a positive test result, the Russian managers did not prepare the necessary production capacities early on.

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In addition to the state-owned Gamaleja Institute, which developed the vaccine, four Russian pharmaceutical companies are said to be producing “Sputnik V”. Among them “Binnopharm”, which is partly owned by the conglomerate AFK Sistema of the oligarch Vladimir Yevtushenkov, who bought the Real supermarket chain in Germany in February. The head of the “Binnopharm” parent pharmaceutical holding recently said in an interview that the requirements of the state exceeded the current possibilities of all producers “many times over”.

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