The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, issued a press release on Tuesday stating that the country will supply 25 million doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine to Nepal.
The Gam-COVID-Vac (Sputnik-V) developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Russian Health Ministry will be supplied via Trinity Pharmaceuticals of Nepal, the statement reads.
The press release issued by RDIF claims that the agreement will enable 90% of the Nepali population to get access to the Russian vaccine and provide country’s clinics with an anti-COVID vaccine with proven safety and efficacy.
“Thanks to agreement with Trinity Pharmaceuticals about 90% of the population of Nepal will be provided with Sputnik V vaccine. Unlike experimental vaccines based on monkey adenovirus or mRNA, Sputnik V vaccine was created on human adenoviral vectors platform, which has been studied over decades and has proven no negative effects in the long-term,” the press statement reads.
The Sputnik-V became the world first registered vaccine against COVID-19 on August 11. However, the late-stage clinical trial of the vaccine has yet to be completed, pending to prove its efficacy.
The World Health Organization (WHO) will approve Sputnik-V as a COVID-19 vaccine only after the vaccine shows efficient result against coronavirus on its final-stage (stage III) of the trial.
Meanwhile, the Department of Drug Administration (DDA), the drug regulatory body of Nepal, has said that no company had applied for the supply of Russian vaccines to Nepal so far.
According to Santosh KC, spokesperson of the DDA, the distributor must apply to the department to bring any medicine or vaccine into Nepal and no company has done so as of yet. Also, the Administration will start the paperwork to allow the import of any medicine or vaccine only if it is approved by Government of Nepal.
“Just because a company wants to bring any vaccine doesn’t mean it can bring the vaccine independently. There is a long and due process for that and we have not started any procedure to allow import of Sputnik-V in Nepal,” said KC.
Member Secretary of Nepal Health Research Council, Dr Pradip Gyawali, also said that no any discussion about the import of Sputnik-V vaccine had been held so far.
Similarly, Rishi Ram Ghimire, Nepal’s ambassador to Russia, said that the embassy was not aware of the development regarding the supply of coronavirus vaccines to Nepal.
Several reports suggest that Russia providing vaccines to Nepal came as a shock for many Nepali officials as they are totally uninformed about the matter.