A deal to sell Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine to Germany is dead, but Russia will send 360 million doses to India, where the pandemic is spiraling out of control.
Germany is in talks with the Russian direct investment fund (RDIF) spent months on a possible supply and production contract for Germany, but the deal has reached an impasse, Germany image The newspaper reported on the weekend.
The heads of state of several federal states, including Bavaria, Berlin, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, had previously spoken out in favor of purchasing the Sputnik-V vaccine after it was approved by the European regulatory authority.
Germany and the rest of the EU have announced that they will not buy the vaccine until it is approved by the European Medical Agency (EMA), which started rolling trials in March but was accused by Russia of being on its heels for political reasons. Hungary uses Sputnik V and Slovakia is about to approve its use.
Meanwhile, alternative western-made vaccines have grown in production, and last week the vaccination rate in Europe surpassed that in the US.
As America’s vaccination program hits the home straight, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and other EU leaders made a joint statement for the US to release some of their supplies to the rest of the world over the weekend. The US reportedly has enough vaccine to vaccinate its entire population twice, but has not yet shared its supplies with other countries. Despite the rise in vaccination rates in Europe, vaccine adoption is still at an early stage.
Rejected by Germany and the EU, Russia continues to make its vaccine available to poorer countries around the world.
An estimated 360 million Indians will receive Russian Sputnik V by the end of March 2022, as India will have approximately 361 million vaccine doses, said officials who coordinate the entire vaccine effort in the country.
India received the first shipment of 1.5 million doses of the vaccine on May 1st, and the second shipment is due to arrive soon. In total, India will receive 18 million doses from Sputnik V, 3 million in May, 5 million in June and 10 million in July.
The Russian state fund RDIF, which finances the production of the vaccine and coordinates supply contracts, has signed pacts with five Indian companies to produce a further 850 million doses. The cans are not only produced in India, but also exported to third countries. Around 238 million cans will be produced in the country from June 2021 to March 2022.
The Sputnik-V vaccine is the third coronavirus vaccine (COVID-19) to be approved by Indian regulatory authorities after Covishield and Covaxin.
The Kremlin has earned substantial soft-power credits for providing vaccines to over 60 countries, almost all of them in developing countries. These states have been unable to source west-made vaccines that have been snapped up by wealthy nations, including the United States.
Questions about the safety and effectiveness of Sputnik V were dashed by a peer-reviewed report in a leading UK medical journal The lancet in February confirmed that the Russian drug was safe and had an efficacy rate of over 91%, making it one of the cheapest and most reliable of any vaccine in circulation.
Russia has also just launched the one-shot version of Sputnik-Lite, which has an 80% effectiveness rate and does not require a second booster vaccination, which is made available to countries like India that are losing the battle against the spread of the pandemic. Sputnik-Lite is also produced in India.
“It is produced in exactly the same countries that Sputnik V is produced in. India, Korea and China,” said Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of RDIF.