Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted the increasingly obvious solution to the crisis of the shortage of vaccines against the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Europe: Germany could buy the Sputnik-V vaccine made in Russia if no alternative vaccine sources are found soon.
âAs for the Russian vaccine, I agree that we should use any vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency. But I would rather prefer European purchases. If there are no European purchases and no signs of this, we will have to go the German way alone, “she told reporters on March 18 after a meeting with the heads of the German regions to approve the anti-coronavirus vaccination in the country “It is possible and we will,” she added, as quoted by Tass.
How bne IntelliNews reported, the EU started the certification process for the Sputnik-V vaccine in mid-January. Russia has finally submitted all the required documentation and the COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be approved for use in the EU by the European Medical Agency in late May.
In the background, preparations for the production of Sputnik V in Europe are in full swing.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the Russian sovereign wealth fund behind the development of the vaccine, has reached agreements with companies from Italy, Spain, France and Germany to jointly manufacture the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine, RDIF chief said Kirill Dmitriev told journalists in March 16. It is not clear whether the construction of these production facilities began before EMA approval or whether it will not begin until the EMA has approved the Russian vaccine.
Russia surprised the world by developing a high quality vaccine very quickly and has now developed two more. Russia has approved CoviVac, its third coronavirus vaccine, for domestic use, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on state television, although large-scale clinical trials that scientists say could be even more effective than Sputnik V have not yet begun has a 91% effectiveness rating.
While Russia initially struggled to build the manufacturing facilities to make the vaccines, some reports are now flooding after so many Russians refused to take the vaccine. At the same time, the epidemic is now on the decline, with so many people infected and, according to some reports, Russia will achieve “herd immunity” of 70% of the population with antibodies as early as August.
Merkel also tried to allay public fears about the Anglo-Swedish company AstraZeneca vaccine by saying that she wanted to use this vaccine despite controversial information about its possible negative effects.
A shortage of vaccines in Germany sparked a public scandal after Europe failed to order enough vaccines to vaccinate its population due to the EU’s bureaucratic procurement rules. Merkel promised that the German authorities have undertaken to start a large-scale vaccination campaign against the corona virus this summer.
âI think we have a very good chance of fulfilling our promise to give every citizen the opportunity to get vaccinated [against COVID-19] by the end of this summer, “she said, adding that a lot depends on how many doses of vaccine are delivered to the country.
The federal government had previously expressed its general willingness to use vaccines developed outside the European Union. The heads of several German regions, including Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, called for political and ideological considerations on the use of foreign vaccines, including Russia’s Sputnik V, to be put aside, reports Tass.
Russia’s Sputnik V is among the top three most popular coronavirus vaccines in the world. To date, it is approved for use in 50 countries worldwide, with a total population of more than 1.3 billion people.
With the Russian vaccine planned and its safety questioned, a German decision to buy or manufacture Sputnik V would be a huge PR victory for the Kremlin and would undo the stereotype âRussia is just a giant gas stationâ than that the country was branded with. The Kremlin has used the goodwill of the soft power that it can win by offering its vaccine to other emerging countries that are excluded from the procurement of vaccines made in the West, most of which have been bought by developing countries: countries with 16% of the World populations in the west have reportedly bought 50% of supplies of other vaccines. Russia, on the other hand, has offered Sputnik to most of its allies in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). It has also made agreements to set up production in several countries, including Turkey and Belarus, which are due to go online shortly.