Mon. Apr 12th, 2021

Germany’s health minister said Thursday that the European Union (EU) doesn’t plan to order Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine but his country will hold talks with Russia on whether an individual order makes sense.

(PHOTO: Russia’s “Sputnik V” vaccine. /Xinhua)

The EU’s executive commission said Wednesday it won’t place orders for Sputnik V on member-countries’ behalf, as it did with other manufacturers, Health Minister Jens Spahn told public radio.

Spahn said he told his fellow EU health ministers that Germany, which has strongly backed joint EU orders, “will talk bilaterally to Russia, first of all about when it could come and in what quantities.” He said that, “to really make a difference in our current situation, the deliveries would have to come in the next two to four or five months already.”

Otherwise, he said, Germany would have “more than enough vaccine” already.

Amid a slow start to the vaccine rollout in Germany and across the EU, there have been calls from some German politicians — particularly at state level — to order Sputnik V. Spahn said he wanted to end the “abstract debate” by getting concrete details of what is possible.

Elsewhere in the EU, Hungary in February became the first country in the bloc to start using Sputnik V and China’s Sinopharm vaccine, neither of which has been approved by the EU’s medicines regulator.

The Slovakia government collapsed after its former prime minister orchestrated a secret deal to buy 2 million Sputnik V doses, despite disagreements with his coalition partners.

And Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of Austria has said his country is in the closing stages of talks to possibly secure doses of Sputnik V. He has left open whether Austria could authorize its use before the EU approves it.

In Germany itself, two state governments are pushing ahead with tentative plans to secure doses of the Russian vaccine.

On Wednesday, Bavaria’s governor said his administration was signing a preliminary contract with a company in the southern German state that would allow it to get 2.5 million doses of Sputnik V, probably in July, if the shot is cleared by the European Medicines Agency. SOVEREIGNPH

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