Moscow desires to work with the subsequent US president to enhance relations, says the top of the sovereign wealth fund
A woman and her dog leave Red Square in downtown Moscow on September 24, 2020.
YURI KADOBNOV | AFP | Getty Images
Relations between the US and Russia are at a low point, the head of the Russian sovereign wealth fund said to CNBC that Moscow is ready to work with the next US president to improve the situation.
Russia has not yet officially recognized Democrat Joe Biden as US President-elect and has announced that it will not do so until an official result is confirmed. This could take a while given the litigation initiated by current President Donald Trump and the prospect of multiple votes counts new. While Trump refuses to admit, Biden is pushing his transition plan, calling Trump's lack of concession "an embarrassment".
However, Kirill Dmitriev, head of RDIF (Russia's Direct Investment Fund), reiterated the Kremlin spokesman's comments earlier this week, saying that "the votes must be counted for good" before Russia recognizes the election winner.
"Russia will work with whoever is elected President of the US and we are at a rock bottom in US-Russia relations. We want to improve it, so we will work with everyone who works with Russia and has a relationship that is so important for the rest of the world, "Dmitriev told CNBC's Capital Connection on Thursday.
The chaotic change of power at the top of the world's largest economy will also come if the coronavirus pandemic continues to be hit hard worldwide.
The US, which has now confirmed more than 10 million cases of the virus, hit a new high on Tuesday for the 7-day average of daily Covid infections of 121,153, a 33% increase from a week. This is based on a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. According to JHU, Russia has now recorded over 1.8 million coronavirus infections.
Hope that a coronavirus vaccine would soon be launched was raised on Monday after US pharmaceuticals company Pfizer and German biotechnology BioNTech announced that the Covid-19 vaccine candidate they had developed was more than 90% effective seemed to be. Hopes were further raised when Moderna announced on Wednesday evening that enough cases of the coronavirus had occurred in its Phase 3 study of Covid vaccines to present the preliminary results to an independent safety oversight committee.
Meanwhile, Russia, which became the first country in the world to register a coronavirus vaccine in August, announced on Wednesday that its coronavirus vaccine was 92% effective at preventing people from getting Covid-19 based on interim trial results.
RDIF, which supports the vaccine’s development and distribution, said the studies assessed effectiveness in over 16,000 volunteers who received the vaccine or placebo 21 days after the first injection (like Pfizer’s vaccine is Russia’s by two separate cans). The study evaluated 20 confirmed cases of the coronavirus among these participants to reach conclusions about the effectiveness of the vaccine.
In comparison, the Pfizer / BioNTech analysis was based on 94 confirmed Covid-19 infections among the 43,538 participants in the study. A study must reach a certain number of infections before data is published, as it shows that the virus is present in those who receive the vaccine or placebo.
RDIF said Russia's interim results would be "published in one of the leading international journals," but did not indicate when it might be.
When asked whether the analysis of 20 Covid cases confirmed a sample size that was too small, RDIF's Dmitriev stated that the clinical protocol dictated that this number was the time the first "checkpoint" for intermediate data was triggered.
"We are very cautiously optimistic about the data," Dmitriev told CNBC. "It is very important that data speak, not Russia."
He added that the next checkpoint – the effectiveness of the vaccine – would be analysis of 39 infected people.
"So we're going to keep the world informed, but of course we think it's very good data, since even 50% efficiency is considered good. And anything over 90% is great," he said.
"We are very excited about the results from Pfizer. We know the Moderna results will be published soon. We want all vaccines to be successful, the world needs successful vaccines."
– Abigail Ng of CNBC contributed to this story.