Meeting with Government members 2020-08-11 12:30:00 Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region The President held a meeting with Government members, via videoconference, on the preparation of educational institutions for the new school year. Taking part in the meeting were Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, Deputy Prime Ministers Yury Borisov, Tatyana Golikova, Alexei Overchuk and Marat Khusnullin, Deputy Prime Minister – Chief of Staff of the Government Dmitry Grigorenko, Deputy Prime Minister – Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev, Presidential Aides Maxim Oreshkin and Andrei Fursenko, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, Education Minister Sergei Kravtsov, Healthcare Minister Mikhail Murashko, Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov, Head of the Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare – Chief State Sanitary Physician Anna Popova and Head of the Russian Popular Front Executive Committee Mikhail Kuznetsov. In addition to preparation for the next school year, which was the main topic, the participants touched upon other matters such as providing free hot meals to primary school pupils, incentive payments to medical workers, reforms of the oversight and supervision system, as well as amendments to dual taxation agreements with foreign partners. Reports were delivered by Mikhail Mishustin, Tatyana Golikova, Dmitry Grigorenko, Alexei Overchuk, Mikhail Murashko, Sergei Kravtsov, Valery Falkov and Anna Popova. * * * President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. Let us get down to work. Today we have a very important topic on the agenda: getting educational institutions in Russia ready for the new school year. We will hear reports by Education Minister Sergei Kravtsov, Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov, and Ms Popova will report on the sanitary and epidemiological situation in the context of reopening schools. Before we proceed with the main topic on the agenda, we will discuss current issues, just as we have been doing for some time now. Perhaps, it would be inaccurate to describe some of them as current issues, considering their importance for the country and the entire world. I have been told that the world’s first coronavirus vaccine was approved this morning. I am asking Healthcare Minister Mikhail Murashko to share some details on this subject, even though I know that it is quite effective, helps develop immunity and has gone through all the necessary trials. We will hear Mr Murashko, who will share his professional perspective. Mr Murashko, go ahead please. Healthcare Minister Mikhail Murashko: Mr President, Allow me to report on the state registration of the first vaccine against the novel coronavirus. Immediately after the World Health Organisation announced that the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 was officially a pandemic, the Gamaleya National Research Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Russian Healthcare Ministry began to work on a vaccine to prevent the novel coronavirus spread relying on the experience and well-established technology for the manufacture of adenovirus vectors. I would like to note that the scientists at the Gamaleya Centre conducted the first successful experiments to develop gene therapy drugs back in the 1990s. Due to the further development of this project, they created a universal platform for the development of vaccines against various infectious diseases, including especially dangerous ones. On this platform, microbiologists from the Gamaleya Centre have already developed, on instructions from the Healthcare Ministry, as many as six vaccines that are now at various stages of the process in the Russian Federation. Some of them are going through the registration and regulatory approval procedure. One of the most striking examples of the use of the Gamaleya Centre platform was the creation of a vaccine against Ebola fever, and another type of coronavirus, MERS. This means that the Gamaleya Centre approached the COVID-19 pandemic with a well-developed technological platform with proven effectiveness and safety. As a result, a group of developers led by Dr Alexander Gintsburg created a coronavirus vaccine in the shortest possible time. The group has received a Russian Federation patent for the invention. The pharmacovigilance experts involved in the drug quality and clinical research discussion have helped develop trial programmes and address regulatory issues of drug safety. The preclinical trials of the vaccine were carried out at the Gamaleya Centre and the 48th Central Scientific Research Institute of the Defence Ministry. The clinical trials took place at two locations: the Sechenov University of the Healthcare Ministry and a branch of the Burdenko Military Hospital. According to the results, the vaccine has shown high effectiveness and safety. All volunteers developed high titres of COVID-19 antibodies, while none of them had any serious complications or side effects. Based on the analysis of clinical trials data, experts from the Healthcare Ministry issued a conclusion, and today a decision was made on granting state registration for the vaccine to prevent the novel coronavirus, developed by the Gamaleya Centre of the Russian Healthcare Ministry. It is one of the first registered vaccines in the world that has proven its effectiveness and safety. The vaccine is registered in accordance with the procedure for market access for medicines to prevent COVID-19, adopted by the Russian Government. We have already reported that a number of medicines were previously released for treatment and are now effectively used by medical institutions. The vaccine developers have prepared documents for further clinical trials involving several thousand people. For emergency monitoring of the health status of those vaccinated and to control effectiveness and safety, the Healthcare Ministry is developing a single digital system that makes it possible to monitor the safety and quality of the medication at all stages of the life cycle. This includes a registry of the vaccinated patients, and on July 1, Russia launched a system for monitoring the circulation of medicines, including an individual code on each package. Vaccine production will now begin at two sites: the Gamaleya Centre of the Russian Healthcare Ministry and the company Binnopharm. At the same time, with the assistance of the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Sberbank project office, technical regulations are prepared to increase production at the sites of a number of domestic manufacturers, which exist in our country. Following your instruction, the RDIF is investing in the production and promotion of the vaccine abroad. A number of countries are already showing interest in it. At the same time, the vaccine will be gradually introduced among civilians, and, first of all, we consider it necessary to offer vaccination to those whose work involves dealing with infected people – medical workers – as well as our teachers, whom the health of children depends on. Mr President, I want to thank you for your help and support of scientists and medical workers at all stages of the fight against the novel coronavirus, including the creation of the new medication – the first domestic vaccine against the novel coronavirus. Of course, I would like to thank the researchers and the volunteers who took part in its trials, as well as medical workers. I would like to thank Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, supervising Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova and my colleagues from the Cabinet of Ministers for their well-coordinated work during this period and the creation of the vaccine. In my opinion, a huge contribution has been made to the victory of humankind over the novel coronavirus. Thank you very much. My report on this issue is finished. Vladimir Putin: Thank you. You said this is one of the first registered vaccines. Are there similar vaccines registered anywhere around the world? Mikhail Murashko: There is our Chinese colleagues’ research that is undergoing the registration process now. There are similar developments in other countries as well, but clinical tests are still underway. In fact, Russia has the first full registration certificate. Vladimir Putin: Which means we have the first registration. I hope the work of our foreign colleagues will also make progress, and there will be a lot of medicines and vaccines on the global market that can be used. I know this vaccine, as you have said, is based on adenoviral vectors, but I think its advantage is that it is based on human adenoviral vectors. It works more precisely and forms stable antibody and cellular immunity. I know this very well, too, because one of my daughters has got this vaccination. I think that in this sense she has taken part in the experiment. After the first shot, she had a fever of 38 degrees, but the next day it went down to just over 37, and that was it. After the second shot, her temperature went up a little, but then came down again. She feels well, and the titres are high. I know that many people have no symptoms or fever after the shot. In fact, they feel as if nothing happened. The main thing is to ensure unconditional safety and effectiveness of this vaccine in the future. I hope this will happen. I would like to congratulate Academician Gintsburg and all his colleagues who worked on this vaccine and succeeded. I know that work on similar vaccines continues in Russia at other institutions. I wish success to all experts. We have to be grateful to those who have taken this first, very important step, very important for Russia and for the entire world. I hope that soon we will be able to launch mass production – this is very important – of this preparation, so that everyone who wants (of course, this must be voluntary, as I have said many times) can benefit from our scientists’ innovations and achievements. Thank you very much to you and to Mr Prime Minister. I know that everyone worked on this most actively. Deputy Prime Minister Golikova focused on the matter as its curator. This is success, and once again, I congratulate you. Let us get down to other matters. <…> Vladimir Putin: I have one more question, and it is for Mr. Overchuk. We agreed with the Prime Minister and the Government to work with some of our foreign partners on changing our agreements on avoiding dual taxation. I will remind some of you of what I am talking about. When money, in the form of dividends is transferred abroad, they are not taxed here at all. They are taxed abroad and in some countries, this tax is 2 percent. Our income tax is 13 percent, and there it is just 2 percent. This motivates businesspeople to send their capital abroad. This is why we agreed with our partners to change our agreements: either the income of primarily big entrepreneurs should be taxed fairly inside the country or, if they believe this is not helpful, this should encourage them to invest in development rather than pay out dividends. But there are also other components of this process. Mr Overchuk, how is this going with our foreign colleagues? Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk: Good afternoon, Mr President. Good afternoon, colleagues. Mr President, in accordance with your instructions and the tasks set by the Prime Minister, we are working to amend the relevant agreements on avoiding dual taxation with our foreign partners. Yesterday Minister of Finance of the Republic of Cyprus Konstantinos Petridis was in Moscow. We held talks with him on introducing amendments to our agreement on avoiding dual taxation. The Cypriots agreed with our proposals. Yesterday, we signed a protocol on the talks, and we initialed a protocol on making amendments to avoid dual taxation between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Cyprus. We also agreed that the countries would complete their domestic procedures, and in September, we will sign a protocol on amendments so that it will enter into force on January 1, 2021. Starting January 1, 2021, a rate of 15 percent on dividends and income will be withheld from source in the Russian Federation. According to the Ministry of Finance, Russia’s budget could receive an additional revenue of about 130 billion to 150 billion rubles. Furthermore, we are doing similar work with other jurisdictions. As of now, the Ministry of Finance has sent letters with proposals to amend the Dual Taxation Treaty to Malta, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The Ministry of Finance held videoconferences with Malta and Luxembourg, and our colleagues’ reaction to our proposals was positive. As for the Netherlands, they still have time to prepare a response, so we are waiting. But if they take too long, then, of course, we will remind them of this. We are carefully analyzing all the dual taxation agreements the Russian Federation has with its foreign partners. We are closely looking at Switzerland and Hong Kong now and are considering sending similar proposals to them. If you say so, Mr President, we will do it. This is basically the current situation. Vladimir Putin: Fine. You know that when I spoke with the President of Cyprus, he showed understanding with regard to our proposals. It is all clear, there are no problems. But the only thing my colleague seemed concerned about – I told you about this, at least I told the Prime Minister – is that this money might go elsewhere. But we do not want this. We are interested not in diverting cash flow to some other country, but in keeping these funds with us – again, either taxed fairly or invested in development. Therefore, I think it is necessary to continue this work with our other foreign partners, and, as we agreed, to act in a partner-like manner, to inform our colleagues in a timely manner, to make proposals that are clear to everyone, and are appropriate. However, if we encounter a lack of understanding of our position, then we reserve the right to unilaterally terminate these agreements. We have this right to unilaterally withdraw, both under international law and actually under the agreements in question. Our colleagues should know this. I hope this will be done carefully, but properly, to achieve the final result we need. <…> Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, I would like to tell regional governors that we still have some time left to complete the tasks that have yet to be finished, including repairs, equipment deliveries, education methodology matters, etc. You know that a lot needs to be done. And there is still time to do it. As we know, the school year begins on September 1, and this day is always a celebration in Russia. I am asking you to do everything to make sure that there is a true celebration. To conclude, I would like to go back to the question of free hot meals for primary school pupils. Mr Mishustin said that about 75 percent of schools are ready to receive federal funds and start work on this programme. It would seem that 75 percent is a substantial figure. However, when 25 percent of schools are not ready, this is truly a lot. I want to know when all Russia’s schools will be ready to serve hot meals to primary school children. In this context, I am asking the Government, which primarily refers to you, Mr Kravtsov, as well as regional heads, the Executive Office, and presidential plenipotentiary envoys to monitor developments across the regions in order to understand how this problem will be resolved and when. This refers to small schools as well. I know some believe that this initiative should not cover small schools. On the contrary, students there must also receive hot meals, or this could be resolved in some other manner. In any case, families sending their youngsters to small schools should not be placed at a disadvantage compared to other Russian families who will benefit from this federal subsidy. I am asking you to work out these issues, and report on them as soon as possible. Let me reiterate that I want to know when and how this problem can be resolved once and for all. Thank you very much. All the best.