Sputnik V an example of how sovereign funds can invest in 'breakthrough projects'

Government-backed investors can help to solve 'some of the biggest challenges for the world', RDIF chief says

FILE PHOTO: A medical worker fills a syringe with Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) vaccine as she prepares to vaccinate a Russian Army service member at a clinic in the city of Rostov-On-Don, Russia December 22, 2020.  REUTERS/Sergey Pivovarov/File Photo

Russia’s development of the Sputnik V vaccine is an example of "how sovereign wealth funds [can] mobilise their capital … to invest in breakthrough projects around the world", the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund said.

"We, from the beginning of the pandemic, really focused on how we, as a fund, can make the best contribution to fight the pandemic," Kirill Dmitriev, RDIF’s chief executive said last week in an address to the Future Investment Initiative.

"We believe … sovereign wealth funds can be more and more socially responsible and really focus on solving some of the biggest challenges for the world, such as pandemics."

RDIF was set up in 2011 to make co-investments alongside other global investors and currently has about $10bn of reserved capital  under management.

It began funding the development of the Sputnik V vaccine produced by Moscow’s Gamaleya Centre last year.

More than 1.5 million people have already received the vaccine, RDIF said on January 21 after the UAE's Ministry of Health approved its use. Hungary became the first European Union nation to authorise the vaccine on the same day.

"We focused on having [a] vaccine that is not only more than 90 per cent efficient but also is safe, can be stored at good temperature and can actually be affordable for the world," Mr Dmitriev said.

The vaccine can be stored at between 2-10 degrees Celsius and costs less than $10 per shot.

The fund is working with a number of other countries, including Brazil, China, India and South Korea, to facilitate local production of the vaccine. It is also co-operating with UK-based pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca on a trial "to increase the efficacy of their vaccine by using one of our shots", Mr Dmitriev said.

RDIF is also seeking to deepen its relationship with Saudi Arabia, he said.

"We see major partnerships that we have built with Saudi Arabia through oil ... where we were able to stabilise energy markets. We enjoy $2.6bn of joint investments with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia," he added.

Russia can do "many more deals" through the joint business council between the two nations covering new areas of technology, Mr Dmitriev said.

"We believe the new horizons … is about genetics, it’s about artificial intelligence," he said.

"We are confident that by working very closely with PIF and with the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia, we will continue to invest in breakthrough projects and technologies that will really transform the kingdom [into] being a consumer in some of those sectors to really being a producer and one of the most vibrant creators of technological content."