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Brussels can try to take Sputnik V supplies to EU countries under its control — source

Earlier, Reuters reported that Brussels can start negotiations to obtain Russian vaccine doses to boost their inoculation campaign against COVID-19

BRUSSELS, March 15. /TASS/. The European Commission can move to strike a joint European contract with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to supply Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 jabs to take the deliveries of the Russian shot to EU members under its control, a diplomatic source in Brussels told TASS Monday, underlining that "the European Commission is yet to engage in talks with the Russian side."

"Russia has already begun supplying its vaccine to Hungary and Slovakia. <…> In these conditions, the European Commission can potentially seek to ink a contract between the EU and the Sputnik V producer, which will mandate that member states receive the vaccine only through the European distribution mechanisms (through Brussels - TASS) as it is done now [with Western vaccines]," the diplomat stressed.

"Much will depend on how greatly EU member states will be interested in obtaining the Russian vaccine as well as whether the European Commission can secure guarantees that the companies who earlier struck deals with the EU fulfil their obligations as agreed. The European Commission is yet to engage in any talks with the Russian side, it is unlikely to be possible before the European Medicines Agency authorizes the Russian jab, and it is still unclear when it can happen," the source added.

He pointed out that EU members currently don’t have the right to independently sign contracts with vaccine suppliers who already struck deals with the European Union earlier, such as Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. However, Russian and Chinese vaccines do not fall under this category, which paves the way for EU members to make decisions on purchasing them by themselves. However, to do so they are required to authorize these jabs on the national level.

Saving vaccinations

Earlier, Reuters reported that Brussels can start negotiations to obtain Russian vaccine doses to boost their inoculation campaign against COVID-19. According to the agency, the EU official authorized to negotiate with vaccines producers on behalf of the union noted that the EU governments are considering launching talks with the Sputnik V developers. According to him, four states are required to make applications to start the talks.

Reuters points out that Hungary and Slovakia have already received their shipments of the Russian shot. Meanwhile, the Czech Republic is interested in purchasing it, while Italy is set to become the first European country to launch local production of Sputnik V in accordance with an agreement signed between Adienne Pharma & Biotech and the Russian Direct Investment Fund.

The vaccination campaign in the EU has been moving forward for more than two months now albeit very slowly due to the fact that vaccine producers cannot meet their target obligations on scales of supplies to the EU. According to the European Commission, EU members received only 40 million doses between January and early March, expecting to obtain 106 million doses in the first quarter and boost this number to 300 million in the second quarter. The supply failures are caused by logistic issues, lack of raw materials and restrictions on transnational exports, implemented particularly by the US and the UK.

On March 4, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) reported that the rolling review of the Russian jab had begun. The EU regulator stressed that specialists would check that the vaccine is up to par with EU standards of efficacy, safety and quality. Sputnik V ranks among the top three vaccines globally in the number of national use authorizations. Currently, the Russian shot has been registered in more than 50 countries around the world with the total population of over 1.3 billion people.