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Swiss-based pharma group to produce Sputnik vaccine in Italy

From space rocket to vaccine: Sputnik V Keystone / Miguel Gutierrez

The Lugano-headquartered Adienne pharma company has agreed to produce the Russian Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in its northern Italy plant, the Italian-Russian chamber of commerce has said.

This content was published on March 9, 2021 - 12:21
Reuters/AFP/dos

If the agreement between the Russia’s RDIF sovereign wealth fund – which markets Sputnik internationally – and Adienne is approved by Italian authorities, production in Italy could begin in June. The hope is to produce some 10 million doses of the vaccine by the end of 2021, the chamber of commerce said on Tuesday. It would be the first Sputnik V production facility in Europe.

Vincenzo Trani, the head of the chamber of commerce, said “it can be called a historic event, which is proof of the good state of relations between our countries and shows that Italian companies can see beyond political differences”.

Adienne is headquartered in Lugano, in southern Switzerland, but operates manufacturing plants in the northern Italian region of Lombardy.

Sputnik V is being reviewed by European Union regulators but has not been approved for use in the bloc. Russia has complained that the EU keeps pushing back the approval process, while acknowledging that the vaccine is already authorised in 46 countries worldwide.

A spokesman for the Italian-Russian chamber of commerce told the AFP news agency Tuesday that “if the vaccine is not authorised in Europe by July 1, 2021, then the doses produced [in Italy] will be bought back by the Russian sovereign wealth fund and distributed to countries where it is approved”.

The EU has approved three vaccines to date: from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca. However, the vaccine rollout in the bloc has stumbled after production delays led to a shortfall in expected vaccine deliveries.

Last week, Italy blocked the export of 250,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia in an ongoing row between the EU and the UK-based pharma company.

Switzerland has so far approved – and is administering – two of the vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna. However, it has also preordered batches from AstraZeneca, CureVac, and Novavax.

While not at the forefront in developing vaccines, Swiss companies have been stepping up their involvement in manufacturing Covid-19 vaccines. Lonza is producing ingredients for the Moderna vaccine at its production plant in Visp, southern Switzerland, while pharma giant Novartis has signed deals to help manufacture both the Pfizer/BioNtech and CureVac vaccines.

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