Merkel declares war on EU vaccine agreement – Germany to purchase Russian-made Sputnik jab

Sputnik V vaccine financier discusses support from EU leaders

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Berlin will start negotiations to purchase the Kremlin-backed Sputnik V immunisation amid a growing shortage of supplies on the Continent. Health minister Jens Spahn confirmed the news at a virtual summit of his EU counterparts, it was claimed. And Bavarian state premier Markus Soder yesterday announced he’ll put pen to paper on a provisional agreement to buy-up the Russian jab.

Germany’s largest state will import millions of doses of the Sputnik vaccine to bolster its vaccination drive if it is approved by European regulators.

Mr Soder told reporters: “Bavaria will receive additional vaccine doses – I believe it’s 2.5 million.”

One EU diplomat following the EU health ministers meeting said Berlin’s move to negotiate directly with Russia was a “motion of distrust” in the way the European Commission has handled its vaccination scheme, according to the Politico website.

Sources say Germany is seeking to establish how many doses can be delivered by Russia and when.

They add that the EU’s largest country will only move to buy the Sputnik vaccine once it has been approved by the bloc’s drugs watchdog the EMA.

If Chancellor Angela Merkel sanctions the move, Germany will become the third country to breakaway from an EU agreement for the bloc to jointly procure Covid jabs.

So far, Hungary and Austria have ignored the scheme amid frustration that Brussels bureaucrats have failed to deliver enough doses to their vaccination campaigns.

Budapest is the only EU capital to use the Sputnik V jab as part of its mass vaccination programme, administering more than 800,000 doses.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s Brussels-led buy-up of jabs has become synonymous with the bloc’s sluggish rollout.

According to the latest figures, the EU has delivered vaccines to 18.35 per 100 people, around a third of the rate of Britain’s jabs scheme.

EMA chiefs have yet to make a decision on whether the Sputnik V jab should be approved for use across the bloc.

Under EU rules, member states can make an emergency decision to issue authorisation for any vaccination over the heads of the Amsterdam-based regulators.

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The drugs watchdog is planning on launching an investigation into whether clinical trials of the Sputnik vaccine breached ethical and safety standards.

EU regulators believe the tests, which Russia said had involved military personnel and state employees, did not meet international standards for ensuring drug trials are designed and conducted properly.

The Russian jab was produced by a state-backed laboratory and funded by the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a Kremin-run cash pot.

This has prompted concerns over its vaccine’s safety and efficacy.

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RDIF boss Kirill Dmitriev told the FT: “There was no pressure on participants and Sputnik V compiled with all clinical practices.”

He confirmed the EMA inspection was scheduled to begin next week.

Thierry Breton, the EU’s vaccines tsar, last month said Europe had “absolutely no need of Sputnik V”.

His remarks prompted claims from Moscow that Brussels was biased against the Russian-made jab.

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