Russia has met only 8% of export orders for Sputnik V vaccine, vaccination at home behind schedule

Russia has met only 8% of export orders for Sputnik V vaccine, vaccination at home behind schedule
Russia has only exported 8% of the 205mn doses other countries have ordered, and is struggling to ramp up production to meet its commitments / wiki
By Ben Aris in Berlin May 25, 2021

Russia has met only 8% of its international orders for the Sputnik V vaccine, despite boasting it has been approved in over 60 countries, according to calculations by the Russian edition of Forbes.  

And the reason it has managed to deliver this much is because of Russians' reluctance to take the vaccine. According to a recent survey, only 40% of those polled said they were prepared to take the Sputnik V vaccine.  

Russia has exported almost as much vaccine as it has used domestically, but production bottlenecks and the lack of facilities mean it has been unable to meet its commitments to some countries, mostly in the emerging world, that have ordered the vaccine.  

By May 21 Russia had exported 16.3mn doses, according to Forbes as cited by The Bell. In-country, according to the latest official data of May 12, 24mn doses have been administered and about 15mn Russians (10.5% of the population) are now fully vaccinated.  

Russia has export orders for 205mn doses, or 100mn people. This means that 8% of the contracts have been completed so far, The Bell calculated.  

Of the countries that have approved Sputnik V for use, some 45 have put in firm orders for the vaccine to be delivered, with four countries accounting for half the total: Turkey (50mn), Mexico (24mn), Argentina (20mn) and Venezuela (20mn).  

Only a fraction of these orders have so far been fulfilled, according to Forbes: Argentina (more than 6.5mn doses), Mexico (2.4mn) and Hungary (2mn) are in the lead. Other client states have received only token deliveries, including Venezuela that has received 430,000 from the 20mn doses ordered, or Sri Lanka’s 15,000 from 13mn ordered.  

And it seems that the client countries are a lot keener on Sputnik V than Russia itself: with the exception of Venezuela, in all the countries that have ordered the Russian vaccine, the share of those vaccinated is higher than in Russia. Currently Russia has the dubious honour of being home to the most hesitant population in the world.  

In April a study by Credit Suisse cited by The Bell showed that Russians were the least trusting towards their domestic vaccine among the eight-largest developing economies. According to the study, in China about 90% of respondents were ready to be vaccinated, followed by Brazil (80%), India, Indonesia and Thailand (about 70%), Turkey and Mexico (60%), while Russia trailed behind with 40%.

On the exports front, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) that is promoting and funding the vaccine sales and production has tried to get round the problem by helping client countries set up their own production.  

Sputnik V factories in Belarus and Kazakhstan are already up and running and another in Turkey will come online soon. However, the production capacity at the Kazakh and Belarusian factories is very small; they have so far produced 1.8m and 300,000 doses respectively.  

The Kremlin has tried to put a positive spin on the domestic vaccination programme. Earlier this month President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would reach herd immunity by September.

However, a report by the Wall Street Journal said that given the current share of inoculations, vaccinating 60% of the population, or 69mn people, in the next four months is nigh on impossible, especially if it tries concurrently to meet its export obligations. It would require vaccinating 0.5mn people daily, incompatible with current vaccine output capacity and export orders. In Moscow, the number of vaccinated inhabitants has plateaued at about 10%.