The team behind Russia’s pioneering coronavirus jab has claimed that EU members are already working to ensure they are first in line to manufacture dozes, even though a review by the bloc’s central regulator has not yet finished.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced at the beginning of March that its officials were studying the results of clinical trials using the formula before Sputnik got the green light for use across the bloc. However, the regulator’s head of vaccine strategy, Marco Cavaleri, told Italian news station Radio24 that the process would not be a swift one. “In the coming weeks we will see if we can approve the vaccine,” he said. “But until the end of April we will not be ready to approve Sputnik V, but rather in May.”
Developed at Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, Sputnik V has already been approved by health authorities in 51 countries across the world and is being routinely used or trialed in nations including India, Mexico and Argentina.
Also on Monday, Reuters reported that unnamed officials had confirmed that EU governments “were considering launching talks with Sputnik V developers and it would take requests from four EU states to start the process” of securing supplies. The article cited concerns that Brussels’ centralized procurement strategy has been too slow and left its members languishing at the bottom of suppliers’ busy order books.
In a statement seen by RT, Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which financed the development of the vaccine, confirmed that his organization “has already reached agreements with companies from Italy, Spain, France and Germany to launch production of Sputnik V.” At the same time, “there are additional talks ongoing to boost production in the EU,” he added.
“We are now actively working with EMA as part of the rolling review procedure. In addition, RDIF and partners are ready to start supplies to those EU countries that independently authorize Sputnik V.” Hungary and Slovakia have both already pushed ahead without waiting for an EMA verdict to secure orders of Sputnik V.
Hungarian President Viktor Orban defended the move, saying that “the pandemic must be fought with as much vaccine as possible – that we can acquire as quickly as possible.” He added that “it is irresponsible to turn the vaccines into a political issue, and let people die and restrict their freedom, because there are political objections to the country of origin.”
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