UAE and Hungary approve use of Russian Sputnik V vaccine

Update UAE and Hungary approve use of Russian Sputnik V vaccine
A medical worker holds a box with a vial of Russia’s Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) coronavirus vaccine in Moscow on Jan. 18, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 22 January 2021

UAE and Hungary approve use of Russian Sputnik V vaccine

UAE and Hungary approve use of Russian Sputnik V vaccine
  • The vaccine, which has a reported efficacy of more than 90 percent, has now been authorized in 12 countries outside Russia

JEDDAH: Hungary on Thursday became the first EU country to approve the Russian-developed Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine for public distribution. A short time later the UAE announced it is following suit, meaning that 12 countries outside of Russia have authorized its use.

Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said the decision by a growing number of countries to approve the vaccine, which has a reported efficacy rate of more than 90 percent, shows that concerns and questions about its development process and safety were unfounded.

“Facts speak for themselves and this information attack that we’ve seen over the past six months has been fake, has been not true,” said Dmitriev. “The truth is, country after country understands the advantage of Sputnik V as one of the best vaccines in the world.”

Shipments of the vaccine could soon start to arrive in the UAE after authorities approved it for emergency use, state news agency WAM reported. The supplies sent to the UAE will be for residents of the country and other partners in the Middle East, Dmitriev said, and facilitated through RDIF’s partners in India, China, South Korea and other countries.

The UAE has been part of the third phase of clinical trials of the vaccine, under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and Prevention and Abu Dhabi’s Department of Heath. The results indicate a high degree of safety and efficacy, Dmitriev said.

Approval of the vaccine by a number of Asian and African countries is expected to soon be announced, and initial production has begun in Brazil in partnership with Unichemicals. Volumes are expected to ramp up by the end of February or early March, following approval, according to Dmitriev. It will be distributed to the other Latin American countries that have registered for the vaccine: Argentina, Venezuela, Paraguay and Bolivia.

“We see a big demand from Brazil by the state and we have an agreement to supply vaccines to it,” Dmitriev said. “A lot of states are awaiting Sputnik vaccines so we hope to resolve any questions from regulators in Brazil in the next few weeks in hopes that Brazil will soon follow the example of the 12 other nations to register Sputnik V.”

He said that more data about the vaccine will be published as early as next week in a leading international publication, after the required information is submitted to the World Health Organization. A review is set for Friday.

Dmitriev added that human trials of a vaccine that combines Sputnik V with the vaccine developed in the UK by AstraZeneca and Oxford University will also begin soon.

“We believe it’s a very important example of vaccine corporation,” he said. “Countries that have already registered AstraZeneca and Sputnik will be the first to try the combination of both after the clinical trials.” He adding that he believes the use of Sputnik V combined with other vaccines will increase the efficacy rate.

The numbers of doses of the vaccine that will be supplied to Hungary and the UAE were not disclosed. A further announcement is expected in a few weeks.