Russia’s Covid vaccine trial includes fertilizer tycoons – business news

The chief executive officer of Russian fertilizer company PhosAgro PJSC volunteered to take the nation’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine and said he feels no side effects.

“I had no symptoms after vaccination and already had a high antibody level,” Andrey Guryev said during an interview in his Moscow office. His father, Andrey — the billionaire founder of PhosAgro — was also vaccinated during the summer, his spokesman said.

The 38-year-old CEO and his 60-year-old father join a group of test subjects that includes President Vladimir Putin’s daughter, Industry Minister Denis Manturov and Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin. The Guryevs, whose family controls PhosAgro, are the first corporate executive and billionaire to disclose their participation.

“A vaccine is the only thing that can save all of humanity, help restart the global economy and return us to normal life,” the younger Guryev said. “It is important that Russia is one of the first countries to have it.”

The vaccine, named Sputnik V, is being developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute and is backed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund. It’s still in a three-phase clinical trial. The institute, which is under the Russian Academy of Medical Science, has been giving shots to prominent people outside the trial groups for months without waiting for results from the full study.

Russia, which has the fourth-highest number of confirmed cases in the world, is fighting a resurgence in Covid-19 as cooler weather forces more people indoors.

Once the Covid-19 vaccine is approved for the general public, Guryev said he’ll add it to the current vaccination program for employees.

PhosAgro started testing its workers in March and spent 2.5 billion rubles ($32 million) so far on pandemic-related measures, including medical equipment and implementing safety protocols. It plans to spend another 500 million rubles by year’s end. These measures enabled PhosAgro to keep its facilities working at full capacity during the pandemic, Guryev said.

READ: Coronavirus Tests Fly by Private Jet as Russian Tycoons Help

As the virus continues spreading, PhosAgro is “not in fear and shock” anymore, Guryev said. Top managers are tested every week.

Also, Kirovsk and Apatity, cities where PhosAgro has key assets, remain closed. About 3,500 employees, or 20% of the workforce, are doing their jobs remotely, Guryev said.

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