Meeting on the signing of a memorandum between the Gamaleya Centre, AstraZeneca, RDIF and R-Pharm

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Vladimir Putin President of Russia
Vladimir Putin President of Russia
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Meeting on the signing of a memorandum between the Gamaleya Centre, AstraZeneca, RDIF and R-Pharm

Vladimir Putin held a meeting, via videoconference, on the signing of a Memorandum of Intent in the area of preventing the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19) between the Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology, AstraZeneca, the Russian Direct Investment Fund and R-Pharm.

The Kremlin, Moscow,December 21, 2020

At a meeting on the signing of a Memorandum of Intent between the Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology, AstraZeneca, RDIF and R-Pharm (held via videoconference).
At a meeting on the signing of a Memorandum of Intent between the Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology, AstraZeneca, RDIF and R-Pharm (held via videoconference).

5 of 6At a meeting on the signing of a Memorandum of Intent between the Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology, AstraZeneca, RDIF and R-Pharm (held via videoconference).

The meeting was attended by Director of the Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Russian Healthcare Ministry Alexander Gintsburg, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Kirill Dmitriev, Deputy Director of the Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology Denis Logunov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of R-Pharm Alexei Repik, and CEO of AstraZeneca Pascal Soriot.

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Excerpts from transcript of meeting on signing a Memorandum of Intent on preventing the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19)

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. I am glad to see you all.

Welcome and congratulations on this significant event, the signing of a memorandum of cooperation.

I am absolutely certain that your commitment to partnership may serve as a compelling example of combining research forces, technologies and investment in order to achieve a common goal, which is to protect the lives, health and safety of millions of people on the planet. Here is what I would like to say. You must have noticed this. My colleagues and I discussed this at length during the G20 summit, a meeting of the leaders of the world’s 20 leading economies. I would like to stress that practically all speakers unanimously agreed that we need to work together to combat the coronavirus. This intention is in fact included in the summit’s final document. In this context, you are doing exactly what the G20 recommended and what the United Nations have repeatedly called for when addressing experts around the world. I am talking about joining efforts.

It is important to use all opportunities that international cooperation offers in order to move as quickly as possible towards the moment when this dangerous infection will finally be defeated. And I am very pleased that Russian specialists, proving their high level of professionalism and scientific expertise, have already made a significant contribution to this common task – they have developed three safe and effective vaccines that can provide a high guarantee of preventing the infection, and in some cases seriously decrease its gravity.

The very first in this series was a vaccine developed by researchers at the Gamaleya Centre with the support of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. I can see all the project participants here, too. The large-scale vaccination campaign already underway in Russia is making use of their invention.

We know that scientists in other countries around the world are also vigorously working on new vaccines. As far as I know, one has been created by AstraZeneca with the University of Oxford. I sincerely greet Mr Pascal Sorio.

To build on these achievements, Russian scientists and our foreign colleagues have made a decision which is based on the principle of an open scientific and professional partnership – and there are no and cannot be any boundaries to that, of course, especially in the current situation.

Just recently, you announced the start of clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of the combined use of two vaccines, namely the AstraZeneca and Oxford vaccine and the Russian Sputnik V vaccine from the Gamaleya Centre.

I know that our colleagues in Russia and representatives of AstraZeneca consider this joint programme an essential step in finding the most effective solution to combat the COVID-19 infection. Such cooperation can produce a powerful effect and synergy, both in terms of increasing the efficacy and reliability of the vaccination campaign, of the vaccine itself, and also for its greater availability due to the introduction of various vaccination plans, enabling modern production and logistics, the use of the most advanced industrial facilities in Russia and in other countries.

Today, I am happy to note that it is precisely Russian scientists, our investment companies and representatives of the partner company AstraZeneca that are implementing the World Health Organisation recommendations in real life. Today, you are doing what WHO representatives have repeatedly recommended. They have called for joint action and continue to do so. And you are showing an example of leadership in pooling international efforts and thus bringing victory over this treacherous virus closer.

We sincerely wish every success to all colleagues in all countries. We know that the process is developing with difficulty. We realise that it is necessary to exert the maximum possible effort, while moving along a virtually untrodden road. By the way, this concerns everyone. We can see problems facing our colleagues. It is therefore very important to act hand in hand, being aware of our shared responsibility. We must understand that it is precisely cooperation that can expand on what has already been achieved by certain countries and organisations.

It goes without saying that Russia is ready to pool such efforts and to conduct joint work, especially in those areas which aim to preserve people’s lives and health. In this connection, I would like to note that AstraZeneca has been operating on the Russian market for many years, successfully implementing a number of investment projects. I know that they have even built a factory, and that they are investing in joint research and personnel training projects.

Mr Soriot, we will support this striving on the part of your company and other partners who have been working rather actively in the pharmaceutical sector for a long time in various regions of the Russian Federation. We will do this in every way.

I am confident that cooperation between Russian colleagues and AstraZeneca will make it possible to achieve a breakthrough while working on vaccines and on a number of other vitally important medicines. I know that your company is working in precisely this direction.

In conclusion, I would like to once again congratulate you on signing a memorandum of cooperation and to wish you every success in the joint work. It would be no exaggeration to say that this work is highly important and noble.

Thank you very much.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) CEO Kirill Dmitriev: Mr President, colleagues,

Mr President, you instructed the RDIF to focus on countering the epidemic, and we used our expertise to find solutions in three areas, each of them vital for saving lives: test kits, antiviral medicine and a vaccine.

As you now, we have invested in the production of rapid and effective test kits, in the production of the first antiviral medicines registered in Russia and one of the world’s two such medicines, as well as in the creation and production of the Sputnik V vaccine. When you established the Russian Direct Investment Fund, you instructed us from the beginning to focus on partnership, which you have just mentioned. The partnership approach you encouraged has allowed us to successfully deal with the creation of the vaccine for the protection of our citizens and people in other countries. Evidence of this partnership approach is the composition of our International Advisory Board, which includes scientists from the United States, Sweden, Germany, Argentina, Croatia and Italy.

We are working in partnership with the world’s leading countries to conduct clinical trials in the UAE, Venezuela and India. Today we can announce that clinical trials have ended successfully in Belarus, where our vaccine has been registered today. Belarus is one of the first countries to register our vaccine.

We are working with producers in India, China, Brazil, the Republic of Korea and other countries to launch the production of Sputnik V beyond Russia. Today, the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan launched the joint production of the Sputnik V vaccine in Kazakhstan. We expect Belarus to start manufacturing finished vaccine doses as soon as the first quarter of 2021. Overall, we hope to produce over 500 million vaccine doses at our facilities outside Russia next year.

Of course, our key priority is to protect Russian citizens, as you instructed, but it is also important to maintain partnership with the countries that would like to buy our vaccine to save their citizens. We will supply the vaccine to them mostly from our manufacturing facilities outside Russia. Deliveries will begin this year.

We are also collaborating with regulatory authorities when it comes to the approval of the Russian vaccine, and we expect to get it approved in several countries as soon as this year. The number of such countries will increase several times over next year. We are pleased to see such high assessment of Russia’s regulatory standards. For example, as the result of our efforts, the lower house of the Brazilian Parliament has adopted a law on the use in Brazil of the vaccine registered in Russia. We believe that this is a very important example, including for other countries which want to save their citizens and trust Russia’s regulatory standards.

Why does this vaccine enjoy such great demand? It is certainly very effective – over 90 percent prevention of the infection and in fact 100 percent prevention of severe cases. It uses a unique technology based on two vectors, and this sets our vaccine apart from others because we use two different vectors in two injections. This is unique and we believe it is more effective than a vaccine that uses the same approach for both injections.

Our platform relies on decades of research, and more than 250 clinical trials have shown its safety. The cost of this vaccine is lower than many other vaccines in overseas markets. Its required storage temperature (+2 – +8 C) allows for convenient logistics. We are grateful to Pascal Soriot of AstraZeneca for the partnership we are announcing today.

Sputnik V remains our main highly effective vaccine, but we also invited AstraZeneca to use one of our vaccine components to create another effective drug. AstraZeneca has accepted the offer from the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Gamaleya Centre and will soon begin clinical trials of its vaccine in combination with adenovirus serotype 26 from Sputnik in three countries in the CIS and the Middle East. R-Pharm will be one of the sponsors of this study.

We welcome the start of this phase with AstraZeneca. We believe that this will be an example for many other manufacturers – an example of working in partnership, in constructive cooperation, and we are confident that both Sputnik V and the new drug will be included in vaccine portfolios in various countries. The portfolio approach to developing vaccines is what will ensure people’s safety. And this portfolio approach should be based not on politics, but on the efficacy and safety the vaccine shows.

In conclusion, I would like to say that we are also ready for partnership, including with Western countries, as regards, for example, the provision of Sputnik V for those patients who suffer from severe allergies and who cannot use other vaccines because some of them have been reported to cause severe allergic reaction. We are ready to supply Sputnik V to Western countries, including this category of their citizens. We can also confirm that, according to our information, Sputnik V is highly effective against the new virus mutation found in Europe. And, accordingly, it is as effective against the new strain as against previous strains. Sputnik V has already repeatedly shown its effectiveness despite prior mutations in the S protein. And, of course, cooperation with a global pharmaceutical leader like AstraZeneca is important, among other things, in fighting new mutating strains of the coronavirus.

We would like to thank you, Mr President, for your support and continue fight against the coronavirus. In partnership with other companies and countries, our vaccine will continue to save lives, jobs and economies worldwide.

Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, friends,

I am now recalling some events that took place many years ago and had to do with the use of our polio vaccine. It happened in Japan, where the Japanese government doubted that using that vaccine was advisable, that it was effective. But the people realised that, they corrected their leaders, and the vaccine was effectively used in many countries and brought very good results after that.

Today, as we can see, the situation has changed dramatically. Today, we are all talking about the need to join efforts, I have already mentioned this – at the G20 level, and at the United Nations. Everyone agrees that this process will certainly be rewarding, and it is something that really needs to be done today. You have indeed switched from words to action, from calls to the implementation of the projects the whole world, humanity is grappling with today, without any exaggeration. Firstly, I congratulate you on this, and secondly, I express my hope that your cooperation will be a success, and I wish you good luck.

Thank you.

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