Russia's sovereign wealth fund and its partner Chemrar say they have signed agreements with another 17 countries for supplies of the COVID-19 drug Avifavir.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said in a statement on September 24 that Avifavir was the world's first registered favipiravir-based drug against the coronavirus and Russia's first drug approved for the treatment of COVID-19.
Favipiravir was developed in Japan and is widely used there as the basis for viral treatments.
"Based on our extensive clinical trials and the research in Japan confirming favipiravir's efficacy against coronavirus we believe that Avifavir and other favipiravir-based products will be the leading antiviral medicines against COVID-19 in the world," RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriyev said in the statement, adding that favipiravir-based drugs were three to four times cheaper than remdesivir, another COVID-19 treatment.
Russia has been pushing hard to establish the lead in the development and deployment of drugs to combat the virus, which has led to more than 965,000 deaths worldwide in less than a year.
Authorities, however, have come under criticism for approving medicines such as the Sputnik-V vaccine before having published data on it to allow for peer review. The vaccine is being developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology with support from the RDIF.
Last week it approved R-Pharm's Coronavir treatment for outpatients with mild to moderate COVID-19 infections. The company has said the antiviral drug may hit the shelves in pharmacies in Russia as early as this week.
The RDIF said Avifavir had already been delivered to Belarus, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
It will now be sent to Argentina, Bulgaria, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Kuwait, Panama, Paraguay, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay.