Russia exported more than $300 million worth of vaccines in the first five months of the year, customs data shows — more than the entire value of vaccines sold in the previous three years combined.
The increase was driven by foreign sales of Russia’s flagship Sputnik V anti-coronavirus vaccine, with millions of doses shipped overseas to customers including Argentina, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Hungary and Serbia.
The figure also includes sales of non-coronavirus vaccines — mainly shots against yellow fever and flu. But the Trade Ministry told the RBC business site that the large jump in sales was mainly due to Sputnik V exports.
Russia has not revealed specific details on how much money it has made, or expects to make, from selling Sputnik V around the world.
In the whole of 2019, Russia exported $60 million of vaccines — a figure which grew in 2020 to $70 million.
In the first five months of 2021, Moscow’s vaccine exports surged to a total of $304 million, according to customs data analyzed by RBC. That compares to just $10 million during the same period of 2020.
But amid production delays and numerous delivery issues among key Sputnik V customers, Russia’s growth in vaccine exports significantly lags the increases in sales registered by other countries exporting coronavirus shots.
China increased its vaccine exports almost 100-fold during the first five months of 2021 — selling $1.8 billion worth compared to just $19 million in the same period last year. While the European Union has sold $6.4 billion in vaccines outside the bloc, up from $4.3 billion, and the U.S. also exported more than $1.5 billion.
Russia is hoping a successful Sputnik V export drive could help the country break into the lucrative medical exports market, providing both a new income stream for coronavirus vaccines, and also opening the door for Russia to sell other pharmaceutical products around the world.