Top EU Envoy ‘Hopes’ for Russian Vaccine’s Approval in Europe

The European Union’s top diplomat has said he hopes the Russian-developed coronavirus vaccine will be approved for use in the European bloc soon, The Moscow Times reported citing AFP.

Earlier this week, a peer-reviewed study published in The Lancet showed the Sputnik V vaccine to be 91.6% effective against symptomatic Covid-19, boosting international confidence in Russia’s jab after months of skepticism. EU approval of the jab would mark a major geopolitical win for Russia, which is facing new sanctions from the West over this week’s jailing of poisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

“It’s good news for the whole of mankind because it means we will have more tools to fight the pandemic,” Josep Borrell said during talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in the first visit by a senior EU envoy to Moscow since 2017.

Borrell said he hoped the European Medicines Agency would certify the vaccine for use in EU member states, adding that it could help the bloc overcome its “shortage of vaccines.”

Lavrov also said that Washington and Moscow had agreed to “see if there is room for acting together” on vaccines and that several European countries were “interested in producing the vaccine on their territory.”

Moscow applied for EU approval of Sputnik V in January. That month, Hungary became the first EU member to break ranks by approving Sputnik V and purchasing 2 million doses of the jab, blaming the slow EU rollout.

Russia registered Sputnik V in August, making it the first approved vaccine in the world, but international observers tied the approval to Moscow’s geopolitical ambitions and questioned its safety and effectiveness as the two-dose shot was approved before the start of large-scale clinical trials.

More than 15 countries have approved Sputnik V so far and Russia launched large-scale vaccination at home in December. Its developers have promoted it as a lower-cost, easier-to-transport alternative to Western-developed counterparts like those developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.