The British journal The Lancet certifies, based on clinical tests, that the Russian inoculator is “safe and effective”
The endless verifications of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on the possible authorization of the Russian vaccine in the Old Continent, the declarations of the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, convinced that Sputnik V will never receive the approval of Brussels, and the failure of the drug in Slovakia exasperates the Russian authorities. They observe in all this “an unfair politicization” of something that should only remain in the health field.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said last week that Sputnik V will receive European approval if all political motivation is set aside. In his words, “it is clear that there may be different positions, it is clear that so far the EMA has not recognized our vaccine (…) but we are convinced that, if we eliminate prejudices, be they political, artificial or monopolistic in nature , Sputnik V will end up being recognized.
Russia was the first country to register a COVID-19 vaccine. It was solemnly announced by President Vladimir Putin in August last year. The top Russian leader believes that Sputnik V “is the best vaccine in the world.” Later, the British magazine The Lancet certified, based on clinical tests, that the Russian inoculator is “safe and effective”. Peskov has now stressed that his “success” in Argentina “supports his excellent reputation.”
But the latest in a series to speak out against Sputnik V has been Clément Beaune, Secretary of State for European Affairs at the French Foreign Ministry. In a television interview, Beaune called for Europe to avoid vaccines produced in Russia and China until they have been recognized by the EMA.
His words were the ones that caused the indignation of Peskov, but also of many other top Russian leaders, including the president of the Duma (Lower House of the Russian Parliament), Viacheslvav Volodin, who has pointed out that Beaune “betrays the true values of the politics in France with its irresponsible and myopic position (…) for him the protection of health is not the main thing, but the motivations of a political and economic nature ».
The best-known and most widespread Russian drug to prevent Covid-19 infection is Sputnik V, but the Slavic country produces three more vaccines, Sputnik Light, EpiVakKorona and KoviVak. Beaune’s warnings were aimed at the two EU countries that have acquired Sputnik V without waiting for the EMA to authorize it, Slovakia and Hungary.
In Slovakia, however, things have not gone well for the Russian vaccine. The idea of acquiring the Russian drug came exclusively from the Slovak Prime Minister, Igor Matovic, a decision that cost him his job. He had to resign in March and hand over the post to Eduard Heger, Minister of Finance, a portfolio that he later held himself. Matovic secretly negotiated with Russia the purchase of two million doses of the drug, which in the end came to 200,000, and did not even update his coalition partners.
But everything went wrong when the demand for Sputnik V by the Slovak population turned out to be minimal. The 200,000 doses bought from Russia in March were to vaccinate 100,000 people. However, only 10,000 signed up to receive it. It was influenced by the skepticism of the Russian population itself towards its vaccine and the fact that the local regulator of medicines, SÚKL, disallowed the use of the Russian vaccine. Its manager, Irena Storová, assured in April that the batches of Sputnik V used in the tests and studies of clinical trials published in the journal The Lancet “do not have the same characteristics and properties as the batches of imported vaccine. for Slovakia ‘. Storová further argued that it did not have the data necessary to carry out a proper evaluation of the Russian drug. Moscow said that the low demand for Sputnik V in Slovakia was the result of the political crisis, which led to a “flawed” vision of it, and that only eight of the 156 vaccination centers in the country offered the Russian vaccine. In the end, Slovakia returned 160,000 doses of the drug to Russia, which it bought back for the same sale price.
The EMA, according to the Russian Government, has been studying the Russian vaccine since March. Starting in April, experts from the European agency visited Russia on successive trips to carry out the checks. At the Gamaleya National Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, the creators of Sputnik V affirm that the homologation process “requires hard work”, but they decline to give their opinion on such delay when the approval of other vaccines, for example from the United States , has been carried out in a much shorter time. In the EU, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are already approved.
The European Union’s ambassador in Moscow, Markus Ederer, suggested at a press conference last week that the EMA might hurry to recognize Sputnik V, if Russia takes the same measure in relation to vaccines made in Europe and the United States. Ederer, however, denied that the EMA acts with political criteria and called for Moscow and Brussels to cooperate in the mutual homologation of digital vaccination certificates to be able to travel.
The head of European Diplomacy, Josep Borrell, accused Moscow in December of carrying out a campaign to discredit European and American vaccines with “misrepresented” information in those countries where Russia competes trying to sell its own medicine. The spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zajárova, responded by saying that it is Borrell who “spreads false information (…) thus fueling the war on vaccines.”