Russia tells EU: We can solve your vaccine supply crisis

Hundred million doses of controversial Sputnik V vaccine offered to Brussels on Twitter

Tim Wyatt
Friday 29 January 2021 13:51
A Russian medical worker administers a shot of the Sputnik V covid vaccine in Moscow
A Russian medical worker administers a shot of the Sputnik V covid vaccine in Moscow

Russia has intervened in the EU’s growing row with AstraZeneca over vaccine supply by offering its own Sputnik V jab to the bloc instead.  

The Sputnik vaccine Twitter account tweeted on Friday morning it could deliver 100m doses to Brussels in the second quarter of 2021, once Russia’s own vaccination programme has been mostly completed.  

The unexpected offer came amid a stand-off between the European Commission and AstraZeneca, the British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm which is producing the Oxford University coronavirus vaccine.  

After AstraZeneca announced it would only be able to deliver 31m doses rather than the 80m promised to the EU in the first quarter of 2021, the Commission demanded it send over doses currently being manufactured in the UK and intended to be delivered to the NHS.   

When the pharmaceutical company refused, EU officials mooted changing the law to potentially prevent vaccines produced within the bloc from being exported elsewhere, including to Britain.  

Amid the row, Sputnik V tweeted: “After completion of the main part of mass vaccination in Russia, RDIF can provide EU with 100 mln doses of #SputnikV vaccine for 50 mln people in Q2 2021 (subject to EMA approval).

“Sputnik V is registered in 15 countries and documents have been submitted for EMA rolling review.”

Currently, the EU has not sought to buy any of the Sputnik V vaccine which has been developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute.  

Concerns were raised globally after Russia began injecting some people before the vaccine had gone through Phase III trials, which sees tens of thousands of volunteers test the jab first. Experts said it was not possible to know for sure if the vaccine was safe or effective until it had completed the trials.  

Interim analysis of a Phase III trial was finally published in December, which claimed Sputnik V was 91% effective and had no reported side effects.  

Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, which is financing the vaccine, said it applied for European Medicines Agency approval earlier this month, but it has not yet been assessed by the EU’s experts.

Some online accused Russia of trolling Brussels by offering its own, controversial and untested vaccine and there has not yet been any response by the EU or EMA to Sputnik’s application.  

However, last week Hungary became the first EU member state to give preliminary approval to the Russian vaccine after the country’s government became frustrated at the slow pace of deliveries from the EU of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine it is currently relying on.  

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