A botched deal to ship 1 million Sputnik-V cans to Kenya was part of the same controversial emirate to plan where an Abu Dhabi-based company with royal connections has signed deals to sell Russia’s flagship coronavirus vaccine at high markups.
Documents received from the Moscow Times confirm that Russia has named Aurugulf Health Investments – a United Arab Emirates (UAE) registered company and affiliated with the Emirati license – as the official Sputnik V dealer in Kenya, where they have a contract with the private Health company Dinlas. Pharma plans to deliver at least 1 million jabs to the African country.
The deal finally collapsed after the Nairobi government learned that an initial shipment of 75,000 doses rose on 22nd cases.
The confirmation of Aurugulf’s commitment in Kenya follows the previous one detection A complex scheme was uncovered in which Russia granted the company – and the small Emirati royal sheikh Ahmed Dalmook al-Maktoum – exclusive resale rights for Sputnik V in at least five countries on three continents. Documents showed how Maktoum and Aurugulf resold the Russian vaccines to governments and private sector buyers at twice the Russian official price, with payments from the stores flowing directly to Maktoum’s private office.
The Kenya deal is outlined in a letter received from the Moscow Times from the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) – the Kremlin-run state fund that leads the development and export of Sputnik V – to the Kenyan health cabinet.
In correspondence dated March 24, RDIF states that its wholly owned subsidiary Human Vaccine (HV) “Aurugulf Health Investment – Sole Proprietorship LLC (Aurugulf), Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, as a seller and distributor on a non-exclusive basis of the ‘ Sputnik V’-adenovirus vector vaccine in Kenya. “
The letter goes on to say that three batches of Sputnik V – two with the first dose of Sputnik V and the third with the second dose of the vaccine – were shipped to Kenya as early as March 22, with the knowledge and approval of RDIF.
“Since the delivery was made by an authorized partner, HV has no objection to the issue of an import license for the batches of the vaccine supplied,” it continues. The letter is signed by Alexander Chistyakov, General Director of Human Vaccine. Chistyakov also signed a number of other Sputnik V supply contracts, including with Hungary, Slovakia and Argentina.
Kenya is the sixth country for which the Moscow Times has found evidence that Russia has granted resale rights to Aurugulf or Maktoum Sputnik V. It is the third country where the deal was negotiated with private healthcare companies, circumventing government vaccine introductions.
Kenya’s Dinlas Pharma also paid significantly more than Russia’s advertised price for Sputnik V to get the jabs through Aurugulf.
According to a Moscow Times pricing plan, Dinlas paid $ 18.50 per dose for the vaccines – almost double the Russian factory price of $ 9.95 – and planned to sell them to customers in Kenya for $ 42 each .
Russia has strong promoted Sputnik V in developing countries as a cheap way out of the pandemic and the jab has been approved in more than 65 countries, mainly in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Analysts describe Maktoum as a low-ranking king. In letters to governments to secure resale contracts for Sputnik V, he signs with his name and “member of the ruling family of Dubai”.
But both Maktoum and Aurugulf have connections to the powerful Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the United Arab Emirates’ national security advisor and brother of the current Abu Dhabi leader.
RDIF did not respond to a request to comment on the agreement. Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook al-Maktoum’s private office refused to comment over the phone.
With the deal, Aurugulf would have earned more than $ 8.5 million, minus transportation and storage costs.
But the Kenyan government blocked the use of the first batch of 75,000 vaccinations after learning that the vaccines were not supplied directly by the Russian government, and banned their use on April 2, after initially obtaining an emergency permit for March 9 Sputnik V had issued.
The Sputnik-V supply contract was signed at a time of rising coronavirus cases in Kenya, with new infections doubling every 10 days in March, leading to tightening lockdown restrictions and the introduction of internal travel bans. Nationwide vaccination has been slow as Kenya relies on supplies from the World Health Organization (WHO) Covax vaccine sharing program. An initial batch of around 1 million AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in early March, but by July 19, the country of more than 52 million people has reportedly been administering 1.5 million vaccine doses WHO data – enough to fully vaccinate only 1.4% of the population.
The current status of imported Russian vaccines is unknown. One of the three batches expires at the end of July, another at the end of August. Dinlas had paid nearly $ 80,000 in import taxes, as indicated on a customs receipt, and had insurance against side effects of the vaccine at a premium of $ 37,000.
A diplomat from the Russian embassy in Kenya previously told the Moscow Times that he did not know where the vaccines came from, but that Dinlas tried to resell them to other countries after their ban.
Prior to being shipped to Kenya on March 22nd, the vaccines had been stored in the United Arab Emirates since at least February 28th at Dubai Airport.
Sputnik V must be stored at temperatures below minus 18 degrees Celsius and thawed shortly before use.
Ghana cancels contract
The revelation that Kenya also used Aurugulf as a middleman to purchase Sputnik-V vaccines comes when Ghana announced it canceled his own $ 65 million contract with the provider after failing to deliver Sputnik V on time.
The Ghanaian government faces a political crisis at home as opposition politicians put pressure on the Ministry of Health for its decision to sign a contract with Maktoum and Aurugulf to supply Ghana with 3.4 million cans of Sputnik V at $ 19 each – almost double the retail price announced by Russia.
Under a contract between the Ghanaian Ministry of Health and His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook al-Maktoum’s private office, signed on March 9 and seen by The Moscow Times, Maktoum agreed to pay the full 3.4 million in total by the end of June five batches. But Ghana had only received 20,000 until last week when it decided to finalize the deal, the Ministry of Health said last week.
Payments for the vaccines totaling $ 64.6 million were to be made to Maktoum’s private office.
The contract was signed by Aurugulf’s Executive Secretary Diana Borovytska, whose social media profiles suggest she is a Ukrainian national residing in Dubai and often attending beauty pageants. Borovytska did not respond to a request for comment on the agreement.
Speaking to a parliamentary commission last week, Ghanaian Health Minister Kwaku Agyemang Manu announced that the contract had been terminated after Maktoum told him he was “fighting for the vaccines”.
Manu also said Maktoum initially asked up to $ 38 per dose for Sputnik V – a 281% markup on the Russian factory price – when negotiations between the two sides began.
“I wanted to find vaccines at all costs – and that made me accept the $ 19 price tag,” Agyemang told the investigation.
The vaccination rates in Russia have accelerated dramatically in the last month, leading to local supply bottlenecks and numerous reports of delays in international deliveries by Russia – especially for the second dose of Sputnik V, the formulation of which is different from the first dose and Heavier to produce, say industry figures.
Other countries involved in the Aurugulf resale program have also fallen behind in their delivery schedules. For example, the company asked its private customers in Lebanon whether they would accept a late delivery with only the first doses of Sputnik V. The application was denied because the Lebanese approval for Sputnik V specifically states that the vaccine is a two-dose treatment and that syringes must be given 21 days apart.
RDIF recently said that the time between the first and second dose could be increased to 180 days instead of the originally recommended 21 days. This change in counseling comes despite studies demonstrate that two doses of other coronavirus vaccines are much more protective and have a greater impact on reducing the transmission of new, more aggressive virus variants like Delta than a single vaccination.