In an update posted online on Tuesday, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) announced the vaccine will cost less than $20 for two doses and a total of 500 million people per year will receive the jab internationally from March 2021 thanks to agreements in place with “leading foreign pharmaceutical companies”.
Russian citizens will receive the vaccine free of charge.
It comes after developers Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna said their vaccines were more than 90 per cent effective at preventing the disease.
In a letter sent to GPs across the UK on 9 November, NHS England said that it had agreed with the British Medical Association that the “Item of Service fee” for a potential Covid vaccine would be £12.58 per dose (costing £25.16 for a two dose vaccine).
Pfizer has said its vaccine is around $20 per dose, so two doses would cost $40. Moderna’s chief executive Stephane Bancel told German weekly Welt am Sonntag that the firm’s vaccine costs from $10 to $50 per dose depending on how much is ordered. AstraZeneca’s costs $4 per dose as the company says it is producing it with no profit gain.
The RDIF said more than 22,000 volunteers have been vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccine and more than 19,000 with the first and second doses of the trial in Russia.
Phase-3 trials are taking place in Belarus, the UAE and Venezuela for the Sputnik V vaccine and phase two to three is currently running in India.
So far, no volunteers have experienced unexpected adverse reactions during the trials.
In the statement, the RDIF added: “RDIF and partners have launched production of the lyophilized (dry) form of the vaccine, which is stored at a temperature of +2 to +8 degrees celsius. Such a regime enables the distribution of the vaccine in international markets, as well as expanding its use in hard-to-reach regions, including areas with tropical climates.”
More than 50 countries have ordered the Sputnik V vaccine and the supplies for the global market will be produced by RDIF’s international partners in several places, including India, Brazil, China and South Korea.
Chief executive of the RDIF Kirill Dmitriev said: “The uniqueness of the Russian vaccine lies in the use of two different human adenoviral vectors which allows for a stronger and longer-term immune response as compared to the vaccines using one and the same vector for two doses.
“We are ready to start deliveries of the Sputnik V vaccine to foreign markets thanks to partnerships with manufacturers in India, Brazil, South Korea, China and four other countries.”
Russia was the first country to reveal it had registered a vaccine to protect people from Covid-19, announcing the news back in August.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that all Russian vaccines against Covid-19 were effective
But the speed and lack of transparency it initially presented fuelled concerns that geopolitics may have been prioritised at the expense of science.
The vaccine is codenamed Sputnik V, in reference to the Soviet’s successful launch of the world’s first satellite in 1957.