Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soeder has once again called for the speedy approval of Russia’s Sputnik V as his government considers vaccine production in the German state, and a Russian company plans to invest in it.
“Generally, we need to think more freely” when it comes to vaccination, Soeder told the German newspaper FAZ on Saturday, adding that this also “includes approving the Russian Sputnik V vaccine as soon as possible if it meets the requirements.”
According to the paper, the prime minister would also like to see the Russian vaccine produced in his state. Earlier, Bavaria’s Health Ministry issued a statement that said it wants to promote local vaccine production, just as a Russian pharma giant’s German affiliate announced plans to invest in Bavaria’s vaccine production capacities.
On Friday, Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek visited a production facility in the town of Illertissen, currently owned by R-Pharm Germany – an affiliate of Russia’s R-Pharm drug manufacturing giant. There, Holetschek said he is “committed to expanding vaccine production in the Free State [of Bavaria]” and wants to send a “strong signal in the fight against the coronavirus.” He also described every newly approved Covid-19 vaccine as “another ray of hope.”
The minister said he would be happy if the Russian vaccine arrives in Bavaria after its approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). He also said he would take the Russian vaccine if German experts and authorities deem it to be good.
R-Pharm Germany said it was “investing more than €30 million [$35.85 million]” in expanding the company’s “vaccine-compatible biotech production” at the Illertissen site.
The company looks forward to building the necessary infrastructure that could be used for the production of Sputnik V in Bavaria once it is approved by the EMA, R-Pharm Germany Sales and Business Development Director Felix Schmitt said.
Soeder has been calling for the speedy approval of the Russian vaccine for quite some time. Throughout the week, he repeatedly urged the EMA to accelerate its review of vaccines awaiting the green light, including Sputnik V. He also said that it would be advisable to use less rigid rules in this case rather than a “classic bureaucratic… procedure.”
On Friday, a similar call came from Berlin’s mayor, Michael Mueller, who said Germany needs “every vaccine that we can get.”
“If we have the chance to use this vaccine, of course we want to and will seize this chance,” he said during a video conference with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in reference to Sputnik V.
The German Red Cross also encouraged the EMA and all relevant authorities to put all “ideological or geopolitical reasons” aside and take a “non-ideological” and “scientifically based” decision when it comes to vaccine approval. The head of the German Red Cross, Mario Czaja, also said that an increasing number of medical specialists in Germany believe that the Russian vaccine “can be trusted.”
The EMA began reviewing Sputnik V at the start of March, but is yet to come to any conclusion.
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