Russia responds to EU calls to “explain” the pace of its vaccine rollout

A person receives the Gam-COVID-Vac Covid-19 vaccine, also known as Sputnik V, in Moscow on January 2.
A person receives the Gam-COVID-Vac Covid-19 vaccine, also known as Sputnik V, in Moscow on January 2. Sergei Savostyanov/TASS/Getty Images

The Kremlin on Thursday said it’s happy with the pace of its domestic vaccination campaign as it prepares to launch production of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine across “a number of foreign countries” in order to meet global demand.

“The demand for the Russian vaccine abroad… [is] so high that it significantly exceeds production capacity and therefore very active work is underway to launch, in the very next few days, the production of the Russian vaccine in a number of foreign countries,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists in a telephone briefing.

The Kremlin has previously outlined its plans to outsource production of Sputnik V, with potential hubs in South Korea, India and Brazil. According to Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which bankrolled the development of Sputnik V and markets it internationally, the country secured contracts to supply millions of dozes abroad.

While Russia is working to supply its vaccine to foreign countries, the Kremlin spokesperson reiterated that supply for the Russian population across all regions remains a priority for the government. 

“Production in a number of foreign countries will cover the needs abroad,” he added.

On Wednesday, The European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen called on Russia to explain why it’s sending “millions and millions” of vaccines to countries around the globe, but continues to struggle to vaccinate its own people.

“Overall I must say, we still wonder why Russia is still offering, theoretically millions and millions of doses while not sufficiently progressing in vaccinating their own people,” Von der Leyen said Wednesday. “This is also a question, I think, should be answered.”

RDIF responded via Twitter saying that the doses of the Russian vaccine have been offered to Europeans after Russia completes mass vaccination domestically, which according to RDIF would be done by June 2021.

Remember: Russian Health Ministry has yet to release comprehensive data on the total number of inoculated people. Denis Logunov with the Gamaleya Institute, which developed the vaccine, said last week that so far about 2.2 million people received the first dose of the vaccine, out of which 1.7 million received both shots, according to TASS state news agency.

In late January, Russian officials said the preliminary plan is to administer at least one dose to 20 million people out of Russia’s 145 million population in Q1 of 2021. 


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