EU unity in tatters! Member states turn to Putin’s Sputnik jab as bloc’s scheme stumbles

Russian vaccine: No regulator in west will approve it says expert

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The Croatian government is laying the groundwork to purchase the Russian state-backed Sputnik V jab. Slovakia is having similar conversations with the firm behind the coronavirus vaccine and Hungary has already taken delivery. Their moves come despite the European Medicines Agency, the EU’s drugs watchdog, not yet approving the jab for use across the bloc.

“Croatia is trying to protect its national interests,” a source said, according to the Euractiv news website.

“At this phase, we need to get the vaccine before it is approved by the EMA.

“That way we can avoid dependency on internal distribution within the EU.

“It is important to emphasise that we are not violating any EU rule or regulation in the process.”

Zagreb is currently negotiating with Moscow for a supply of at least one million doses of the Sputnik V jab.

Even if the vaccine isn’t approved by EU regulators, the doses would still be shipped.

Insiders say the plan is to wait until the bloc gives a “thumbs-up” to the Russian jab before rapid rollout.

But it was claimed Croatia’s national medicines agency, HALMED, is exploring ways to roll out the vaccine before it is authorised by the EMA.

Andrej Nesterenko, Russia’s ambassador to Croatia, said: “According to my knowledge, it is possible for us to ship the vaccine in 24 hours.

“We even have special planes at our disposal, if needed. But we are still waiting for the agency’s clearance and the official request from Zagreb.”

The Slovak government will open similar discussions with Moscow today on the purchase and use of the Russian vaccine.

Prime Minister Igor Matovic said: “I don’t see any reason why we cannot use it here.

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“If we had Sputnik now, millions of people could get vaccinated.”

Slovakia is currently using the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca jabs that are authorised for use by the EMA.

Insiders believe the country could press on with vaccinations using the Russian jab before it receives official approval from EU regulators.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has questioned why Moscow is pushing its vaccines overseas while not using it at home.

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EU vaccine rollout shortcomings addressed by von der Leyen

She told reporters: “We still wonder why Russia is offering, theoretically, millions and millions of doses while not sufficiently progressing in vaccinating its own people.”

Russian diplomats have claimed to have started the authorisation process with the EMA for their jab.

But the Amsterdam-based EU agency has denied this is the case.

Mrs von der Leyen said EU inspectors would have to visit all of Russia’s manufacturing sites and review all of the data before approval is granted.

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