EU Members Divided on Russian Vaccine Purchase
Members of the European Union (EU) appeared divided over plans of procuring Covid-19 vaccines from Russia as they grappled to find their own way out of the conundrum.
According to reports, a growing number of European leaders have been advocating the use of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine amid frustrations with the bloc’s slow vaccination rollout.
Among the issues brought to the negotiating table were plans to register Sputnik V vaccine within the EU as well as the possibility of co-manufacturing the vaccines with Europe-based pharmaceutical giants.
However, it said that such a vaccine would only be used if it meets European standards.
The meeting was enough to send shivers down the spine of some state member leaders, prompting angry responses and the resignation of one prime minister.
Sputnik V has yet to be approved by the EU drug regulator for emergency use but was already widely used by Hungary and Slovakia. It also received backing from health officials in Germany and Italy.
German health ministry spokesperson Sebastian Gülde, however, underscored that the vaccine cannot be marketed in Germany without the bloc’s approval.
Mario Draghi, Italian Prime Minister, has said in March that he was keen on securing an order for Sputnik, but that the execution of procurement would depend on the EU’s coordination.
Just this week, Austria said it was in talks with Russia for the purchase of one million Sputnik V doses.
For their part, European Commissioner Thierry Breton said that the bloc does not need the Russian vaccine while officials have expressed concern that Russia was using its jabs to gain a geopolitical edge overseas.