Russian Sputnik Covid-19 vaccine to be made in Italy in first EU deal

Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19 could be produced in Europe for the first time after a commercial deal to produce it in Italy was signed by the Moscow-based RDIF sovereign wealth fund and Swiss-based pharmaceutical company Adienne.

MOSCOW (BLOOMBERG) - A Swiss biopharmaceutical company will produce the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine at its Italian facilities, marking the first European production agreement for the Russian shot.

Lugano, Switzerland-based Adienne Pharma & Biotech SA signed an agreement with Russian sovereign wealth fund RDIF to manufacture the vaccine at its production site in the Milan region, according to a statement on the company's website.

The start of production is subject to approval from Italian regulators with several million doses expected by the end of the year.

The deal comes as Prime Minister Mario Draghi pledged to speed up Italy's fledgling vaccination campaign amid a new rise in infections from the disease that's already claimed 100,000 victims in the country.

Earlier this month, Mr Draghi was the first European leader to use recently introduced powers to block the export of AstraZeneca Plc's vaccine, after the company sharply reduced planned deliveries to the European Union.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday (March 8) lashed out at manufacturers for failing to uphold their commitments as countries in Europe struggle to step up the pace of inoculations.

Rolling review

The European Medicines Agency said on March 4 that it started a rolling review of Sputnik V to test compliance with safety and quality standards, the first major step in gaining approval for use in the European Union.

The Russian vaccine started to gain broader international recognition after The Lancet medical journal published peer-reviewed results of interim trials showing 91.6 per cent efficacy.

"Adienne will become our first production in Europe," RDIF Chief Executive Officer Kirill Dmitriev said in the statement.

"Launch of production in Italy will help meet the rising demand for Sputnik V and protect many people not only in Europe but also in other parts of the world as the vaccine could later be exported."