Russian Covid Vaccine Manufacturers Looking At Shanghai Pharma Production

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The Russian Biotech group Biocad is in talks to produce a Covid-19 vaccine in Shanghai, where it has a joint venture with Shanghai Pharmaceuticals. The treatment is being developed by Russia’s Vector State Virology Institute, Dmitry Morozov the CEO of the St Petersburg-based company said in an interview with Reuters. The vaccine – based on the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) – entered clinical trials in Russia on Monday, and is one of six vaccine prototypes the Vector Institute is developing, a World Health Organization list showed.

Founded in 1974, the Vector Insititute has a long history of virology, making significant contributions to smallpox research and well as research and development contributions in vaccine work for Hepatitus A, Influenza, Ebola and test-systems for diagnostics of HIV, Hepatitus B and and other developments. In March 2020 it was reported that Russian scientists have begun to test vaccine prototypes for Covid-19 with the plan of presenting the most effective one in June, which is what happened. The prototypes have been created and the testing on animals and humans begun. Biocad is the commercial arm that tests and presents products to market.

Biocad is gearing up to produce 4-5 million doses per month of the VSV-based vaccine by the end of this year, if early-stage trials prove it to be safe and effective, Morozov said.

Biocad plans to handle industrial scale production of the vaccine entirely in-house, from manufacturing the virus strain in its bioreactors to dealing with registration and packaging, Morozov said. “We can do it all at our current facilities,” Morozov said, adding there was no need to expand their production capacity to meet output targets. “We have received requests about deliveries for export based on the potential success of this vaccine … on the level of countries as well as private companies,” Morozov said, adding that Biocad had received requests from Egypt, South Africa and Thailand.

Biocads’ discussions concerning the Vector VSV vaccine production in China will presumably be to service the Chinese domestic market, which is ten times the size of Russia’s. The news concerning potential collaboration between China and Russia over production come just as the United States has said it is pulling out of the global Covax programme designed to share and promote advancements in Covid-19 research, having earlier withdrawn from the World Health Organisation and passed on its annual US$450 million contribution.

“Recent collaborative developments in issues such as 5G and now medicine between Russia and China are becoming a serious competitive issue for the United States, who at present seems content to plough its own furrow” say Chris Devonshire-Ellis of Dezan Shira & Associates. “It remains to be seen how long the US will continue to self-isolate from global developments and remain aloof. It is an inappropriate time to be withdrawing from two of the most important issues in the developing world and means the unnecessary duplication of time and efforts will ultimately result in a slow down of global growth just when a stimulus is needed.”

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Russia Briefing is written by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm has 28 offices throughout Eurasia, including China, Russia, India, and the ASEAN nations, assisting foreign investors into the Eurasian region. Please contact Maria Kotova at russia@dezshira.com for Russian investment advisory or assistance with market intelligence, legal, tax and compliance issues throughout Asia.

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