Russia Says Saudi Arabia Will Test Controversial Virus Vaccine

Russia has reached an agreement in principle to conduct clinical trials of its controversial coronavirus vaccine in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to the head of its sovereign wealth fund.

The Russians are working with a pharmaceutical company in the kingdom and have shared data from Phase I and Phase II trials with Saudi partners, the chief executive officer of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, Kirill Dmitriev, told Arab News. The company wasn’t identified.

“We’ll really engage with Saudi scientists and the Saudi Health Ministry,” Dmitriev said. “We believe that Saudi will be a very strong partner for our joint work on the Sputnik V vaccine.”

Earlier this month Russia approved a coronavirus shot before crucial tests have shown it’s safe and effective. The plan is to begin mass inoculation soon. A local association of multinational pharmaceutical companies has called the rushed regulatory approval risky.

Russia also shared its data with the UAE and is expecting to start its trials there later in August, Dmitriev said. Additionally, it plans to conduct clinical trials in the Philippines and Brazil as well as at home, he said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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