Asia & Pacific

Seoul Considers Using Russian COVID-19 Vaccine Sputnik V

SEOUL (Sputnik) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in instructed his aides to examine the possibility of using the Russian vaccine against COVID-19 Sputnik V in the country, Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday, citing a source in the presidency.

The government is already reviewing Sputnik V, in particular its side effects.

“Given the concerns about the supply of vaccines, the advisers expressed the view that it was necessary to consider the introduction of a Russian vaccine, to which President Moon Jae-in said: ‘Do so’,” a source in the presidency said.

The source, however, noted that a full-scale review of the use of the Russian vaccine was not yet underway and Seoul is going to get more detailed data and monitor the approval process of Sputnik V in foreign countries and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Seoul has so far signed contracts with pharma firms AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, Janssen, Novavax, as well as the World Health Organization’s COVAX Facility mechanism, on the supplies of their vaccines against the coronavirus.

South Korea is at the forefront among foreign vaccine production partners of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Russia’s sovereign wealth fund that is behind Sputnik V exports, as two consortiums — one led by biotech companies GL Rapha and ISU ABXIS and another by pharmaceutical company Huons Global — already inked deals with RDIF on technology transfer and production of the vaccine.

All vaccines produced by both groups in South Korea will be exported abroad, while the Asian country itself does not use Sputnik V.

Sputnik V, the world’s first registered coronavirus vaccine, has been approved for emergency use in 60 countries across the globe. According to an interim analysis from the trial published in The Lancet, the vaccine has 91.6 percent efficacy.

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