It is easy to convert a Soviet-era car factory into the most advanced factory that launched the Russian covid-19 Sputnik V vaccine.
However, the production of large quantities, the search for qualified personnel, and the purchase of equipment have made the Moscow biotech company R-Pharm and private Russian companies chosen by other countries to fight the coronavirus pandemic even more troublesome.
President Vladimir Putin (Vladimir Putin) promoted the vaccine globally and said in March that Russia had signed an international agreement to produce 700 million doses of Sputnik V vaccine.
But according to a Reuters list, as of May 12, Russia had produced only 33 million doses of the vaccine, while the export volume was less than 15 million doses.
Russia’s output is far below the monthly output of Pfizer and AstraZeneca of hundreds of millions.
Interviews with four manufacturers and two people involved in the production process and the Russian supply chain show how difficult it is to manufacture Sputnik V and increase production.
These issues have warned foreign partners (including India) who are planning to produce vaccines on a large scale, and countries that rely on Moscow for their vaccination programs.
Since the United States and European countries are vaccinating local populations, Russia has quickly stepped in by providing vaccines to more than 50 countries/regions from Latin America to Asia.
However, the delay in sending vaccines to these countries has given China and the United States time to make up for this shortfall.
The Brazilian regulatory agency refused to approve the import of Sputnik V on the grounds of incomplete data on its safety and effectiveness.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) is responsible for selling vaccines abroad. He said that with the emergence of new manufacturers, the production capacity of Sputnik V is increasing globally.
RDIF told Reuters that it plans to produce enough doses to vaccinate 800 million people in 2021 and “demonstrates a firm commitment to complying with supply contracts.”
He said he supports the proposal to provide the drug to 50 million people in the EU. Russia wants the European Medicines Agency to approve the vaccine.
R-Pharma’s new 27,000-square-foot factory on the outskirts of Moscow has more than 200 bioreactors that can grow cells that make up the vaccine.
R-Pharm learns this process from the ground up, and managing the bioreactor is like “working blindly,” CEO Alexei Repik told Reuters.