D.he entire period in office of Angela Merkel is characterized by the endeavor to hold the European Union together even in severe crises and major challenges – the only catchwords mentioned are the euro crisis and asylum policy. In the corona pandemic, Europe is once again facing an extreme challenge. After the European path in vaccinating against the coronavirus turned out to be slow, Berlin wants to go its own way with the procurement of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V and negotiate deliveries with Moscow. So far, Germany had only purchased vaccine together with the other EU countries.
The EU Commission, said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) in the WDR on Thursday, had announced that it would not conclude any contracts for the Russian preparation as it did with other manufacturers. Thereupon he announced at a video conference of the EU health ministers “that we will then also talk to Russia bilaterally”. So it does not seem to be a fundamental turning away from the European path, but a reaction to behavior in Brussels.
Bavaria’s advance did not come out of nowhere
However, in an effort to try without the EU, others have beaten the German government. Markus Söder made the start. On Wednesday, the Bavarian Prime Minister announced that the Free State had secured up to 2.5 million doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V. A corresponding letter of intent has been signed by the Bavarian Ministry of Health and the Russian direct investment fund and sales partner RDIF. As the Ministry of Health announced, the core of the preliminary contract is the fastest possible access “of the Bavarian population” to the Russian vaccine.
In addition to the option of direct importation of the vaccine from Russia, a biotechnical production facility is also to be set up by R-Pharm Germany GmbH in Illertissen in Bavaria and Swabia. This is the German branch of a Russian pharmaceutical company. Health Minister Klaus Holetschek, like Söder at the CSU, told the FAZ: “Vaccine is still a scarce commodity in Germany. If a company produces vaccines on Bavarian soil, it would be negligent if the Free State does not secure at least one option for itself. “
On Thursday, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was also among the Sputnik buyers. The Minister of Economic Affairs for Health Harry Glawe (CDU) announced that the country had secured an option for one million vaccine doses. One is still in a phase in which there are great dependencies on too few manufacturers, he said. A contract was to be sent to Moscow on the same day. There was applause even from the opposition. “Political resentment and ideological reservations are just as of interest to the virus as national borders,” said the left parliamentary group leader Simone Oldenburg.
Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig, Social Democrat and advocate of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which arrives in her country, has previously advocated keeping an eye on the Sputnik V vaccine – just as she has repeatedly criticized the EU for ordering it. Parallels to the attitude in Munich can be seen here. The state government had recently expressed displeasure that the federal government had shown too little activity in the Sputnik matter.
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