MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish biopharmaceutical group Zendal wrote to Spain’s industry minister declaring its interest in producing Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in the country, an industry ministry spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
Spain’s health ministry said earlier on Wednesday it was unaware of any contract to domestically manufacture Sputnik V after Moscow’s RDIF sovereign wealth fund said it had struck deals in Spain, Italy, France and Germany.
Zendal’s letter to Industry Minister Reyes Maroto was forwarded to the health ministry, the spokeswoman told Reuters.
The French industry ministry had said on Tuesday no company in France had signed such a contract, appearing to contradict the head of RDIF, which markets the vaccine internationally and announced the deals earlier in the day.
The Russian Embassy in Madrid tweeted late on Tuesday that Spanish company IberAtlantic was negotiating a potential deal with RDIF and Zendal to produce Sputnik V at the latter’s laboratory in the northwestern region of Galicia.
Zendal did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter sent to the Industry Minister.
But asked earlier on Wednesday about a potential interest on producing the Russian vaccine, a Zendal spokeswoman declined to confirm or deny the talks, saying the company had received several proposals regarding vaccines but that they remain confidential until negotiations are concluded.
Zendal said last year it would handle production in the European Union of the antigen of U.S. firm Novavax’s coronavirus vaccine project.
IberAtlantic, an international investments advisory company also based in Galicia and with business ties with Russia, is acting as local partner in Spain for RDIF, its chief executive Pedro Mourino told Reuters.
Mourino, who is also Russia’s honorary consul general in Galicia, said Zendal was one of the potential Sputnik V producers in Spain but declined to confirm or deny if there were talks with the company, citing confidentiality.
He said negotiations to find a Spanish producer were advancing “at a good rhythm and will probably lead to (signing) a contract”.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) began reviewing Sputnik V for possible approval last week.
(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Joan Faus; Writing by Nathan Allen and Joan Faus; Editing by Toby Chopra)