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EMA head’s ‘Russian roulette’ remark on Sputnik V ‘regrettable, incorrect’ — Kremlin

The spokesman underscored that Sputnik V is one of the most popular vaccines in the world

MOSCOW, March 9. /TASS/. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov criticized the remark by European Medicines Agency (EMA) Chairwoman Christa Wirthumer-Hoche, who compared the idea of emergency authorizations of the Sputnik V vaccine to "playing Russian roulette," as incorrect and regrettable.

"As for this regrettable statement, it is incorrect to say the least. The demand for the vaccine and the vaccination campaigns in many countries indicate its relevance and popularity," Peskov told journalists Tuesday.

Earlier on March 9, developers of the Sputnik V vaccine demanded an apology from the EMA chairwoman for comparing the Russian vaccine authorization to "playing Russian roulette."

Peskov redirected the question on prospects of production of the vaccine in Italy to the Russian Direct Investment Fund. According to the spokesman, "several countries establish production chains, which will largely help to satisfy the growing demand of the external market."

The spokesman underscored that Sputnik V is one of the most popular vaccines in the world. "There could be no doubts at this point that this is one of the most popular and trusted vaccines in the world," he added.

Earlier, the media reported that the Direct Investment Fund plans to cooperate with Switzerland’s Adienne Pharma & Biotech in order to produce Sputnik V in Italy. According to the Fund’s Director Kirill Dmitriev, the production in Italy may begin in June, making it possible to vaccinate up to 700 million people before the end of this year. He also disclosed that the Fund would have announced 20 cooperation projects in 10 countries before the end of March. In particular, the Fund discusses cooperation with Germany and France.

On March 4, EMA announced the examination procedure for the Sputnik V vaccine. The agency stated that it would test the vaccine’s compliance with the EU standards for efficiency, safety and quality. A number of EU countries have already authorized the use of Sputnik V on their own without waiting for approval from the EMA. Currently, the vaccine is registered in Hungary and Slovakia.

The Russian vaccine’s efficiency is estimated at 91.6%, a figure confirmed by the relevant publication in The Lancet, one of the world’s oldest and most respected medical journals.

Politicization of vaccines

Russia is not involved in campaigns against foreign coronavirus vaccines and any accusations in this connection are utterly absurd, Dmitry Peskov told the media following the US Department of State’s claims Russian intelligence services were spreading disinformation against US vaccines.

"One can hardly take it with understanding. We are rather curious about the reasons behind such statements," Peskov said, adding that Moscow would continue to explain "patiently and systematically that such rumors are utterly absurd."

"Russia has never participated in such information campaigns against other vaccines and has no intention to do so," he stressed, adding that Russia maintained cooperation with vaccine manufacturers in other countries for the sake of creating the most effective medicines.

"All these allegations [about disinformation] are absurd and devoid of any substance. We feel great regret that some take such statements seriously," Peskov stated.

He drew attention to the fact that a vast discussion was underway around the world in scientific, pseudo-scientific and political circles over the anti-coronavirus medicines manufactured in different countries.

"We have been invariably against the politicization of any vaccine-related issues," Peskov said. "All drugs must be thoroughly tested and, once their effectiveness has been confirmed, produced in the largest amounts possible to save the world and as many human lives as possible from the coronavirus."

According to the spokesman, Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is highly effective against COVID-19. "Our vaccine is highly effective, but it faces criticism every day. Some opponents try to look objective, while others do not bother to be impartial at all and indulge in wholesale criticism," he noted.