Brazilian drugmaker completes first batch of Russian COVID-19 vaccine

An employee holds a vial containing Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) made with ingredients and technology supplied by Russia at Brazilian pharmaceutical company Uniao Quimica in Guarulhos, Brazil May 20, 2021. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

By Leonardo Benassatto

GUARULHOS, Brazil (Reuters) -Brazilian pharmaceutical company União Quimica completed production of its first batch of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine with active ingredients and technology supplied by Russia, the company said on Thursday.

The vaccine will be exported to neighboring countries in South America, since Brazil has not yet approved the Russian shot for domestic use.

Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, which developed the vaccine, said it had seen to quality control of the vaccine ingredients, which were put into vials and packaged for shipping – a process known as fill and finish – at the União Quimica plant in Guarulhos, just outside the city of São Paulo.

The factory’s first batch of 100,000 doses were packed into boxes labeled in Spanish, although the countries receiving them have not been decided yet by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), executives said.

Fernando Marques, chief executive of the family-owned firm, said Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina are interested in buying the vaccine. União Quimica will have a capacity for 8 million doses a month, when Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa approves its use in Brazil, he told Reuters.

Anvisa approval has been delayed after the agency took issue with some documents and missing trial data that the RDIF, which is marketing the shot, has been asked to provide.

Marques hopes approval will be given by June and his company will start producing the active ingredient at its biomedical lab in Brasilia instead of importing it from Russia.

RDIF said it has signed production contracts for Sputnik V with 20 manufacturing sites in India, Argentina, South Korea, China, Italy, Serbia, Egypt, Turkey, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

So far, the vaccine has already been produced in Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Egypt and Argentina, where the first test batch was produced on April 20 by Laboratorios Richmond, RDIF said.

(Reporting by Leonardo Benassatto and Anthony Boadle; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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