The discussion focused on the Fund’s current activities, namely, COVID-19 response. Kirill Dmitriev briefed the President on the Fund’s participation in the development of test systems, as well as production and promotion of vaccines and antiviral drugs.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Dmitriev, the Russian Direct Investment Fund makes a significant contribution to the battle against COVID-19 by manufacturing test systems and promoting vaccines, including on the global market.
But I suggest we begin with your joint activities with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP). You created a joint fund to promote advanced technologies.
Russian Direct Investment Fund CEO Kirill Dmitriev: Yes, Mr President, thank you for your support.
It is true, as per your instructions regarding “the fund of funds”, the ten leading entrepreneurs from the RSPP will join us in investing in Russian high-tech companies. This is an important step because it will combine our Fund’s efforts with all RSPP members, not only investors, and will allow funding a larger number of high-tech companies.
As you know, the RDIF already invests a lot in technology, but it is the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs that will also start investing in various venture funds, thus creating many good jobs and, we are sure, promising Russian companies.
Vladimir Putin: Are our businesses satisfied with the formula that was proposed for such work? You remember, there were discussions about that in the Government. What was the result of these discussions?
Kirill Dmitriev: Yes, they are perfectly satisfied, and they are happy to co-invest together with the Russian Direct Investment Fund. Each invests one billion rubles of their own funds; the state also invests 10 billion rubles in this fund, and the Direct Investment Fund will also be investing in it. They will bring in many companies that they know well, and will gain access to all of the RDIF technological investments.
Vladimir Putin: But the question was whether they would be able to take part in outlining research areas and spending.
Kirill Dmitriev: Yes, of course. They will be on the investment committee and will take part in the decision-making process. It is very important because businesses will help to make investment decisions. As the Russian Direct Investment Fund is based on co-investing, here businesses will also play a decisive role in making such decisions.
Vladimir Putin: Good.
Kirill Dmitriev: Thank you.
Let me also brief you on our COVID-19 response efforts.
Mr President, when you created the RDIF, you focused us on many international partnerships. When you instructed us to combat the coronavirus, we used all these international partnerships to make a breakthrough in three main areas: tests, vaccines and drugs.
Our last year’s progress was very good: we made a breakthrough with tests, protecting Russians and Russian companies. These are world-class tests; we supplied over 15 millions of them to 17 countries. And we will announce a new breakthrough soon: our tests are widely used at airports and other places outside of labs. We will also announce the creation of a conveyor robot that can perform 300 tests per hour and does not require highly skilled personnel to operate it. We believe that it would be a key solution not only for Russia, but for other countries as well, to automate the process of testing outside medical labs.
As for the drug, as you know, we registered one of the two…
Vladimir Putin: Avifavir?
Kirill Dmitriev: Yes. One of the two anti-COVID drugs. 300,000 of them have already been supplied to Russia, saving tens of thousands of lives. Our production capacities have doubled to 200,000 treatment courses per month. We have already delivered the drug to 30 countries.
Now to the vaccines. As you know, Sputnik V is one of the most effective vaccines in the world: it has over 90 percent efficacy. We offered one of our injections to our other partners whose vaccines have less than 90 percent efficacy to improve their products.
We are actively working with Russian manufacturers: it took us three months to build Sputnik Technopolis, one of the largest plants to produce the vaccine, together with R-Pharm.
We are also setting up international production, just as you told us to do. We have agreements with 10 countries and 20 manufacturers, including the world’s largest producers, and we are already planning to… Firstly, India and South Korea are already producing the vaccine, and many of these enterprises will reach full capacity in April.
Thus, this is truly the greatest achievement of Russian science, which is acknowledged by the entire world, and we are actively implementing this programme, of course, with a focus on vaccinating Russian citizens, but part of the vaccine produced abroad is delivered to foreign markets.
Vladimir Putin: And it will also delivered to Russia.
Kirill Dmitriev: Yes, foreign-manufactured Sputnik V can also be delivered to Russia to increase the vaccination rate in the country. According to our assessment, we believe that Russia is not only one of the current leaders in the world in terms of vaccination rate, but we can provide vaccines to all people in Russia who want to be vaccinated before June using the production capacities in Russia and abroad.
Vladimir Putin: As I understood from talking to experts, this vaccine is effective against all known strains of the virus.
Kirill Dmitriev: Yes, it is. Due to the two jabs, it is better than the other vaccines as relates to mutations. It was proved in the case with the British strain and a large number of others. Therefore, we believe that our vaccine is one of the best in the world, including against new strains of COVID-19.
Vladimir Putin: The test systems you mentioned can show all versions of the virus.
Kirill Dmitriev: Yes, of course.
Vladimir Putin: They can detect them.
Kirill Dmitriev: Yes, they can, and it is very important because coronavirus mutations are a huge challenge for humankind. But Russia is ahead, both in terms of tests and vaccines.
Vladimir Putin: Good.
Kirill Dmitriev: Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.