In an email given exclusively to US state-run media RFERL, EU employees were told that Russian authorities had offered to “extend the COVID vaccination campaign to the diplomatic corps, organized by the city of Moscow.”
The missive asked for staff of diplomatic missions to provide their details and those of any family members over the age of 18 who wished to be vaccinated. More information would then follow, it said. Officials caveated that they could not “actively recommend” any jabs not approved by the bloc’s central regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), however.
According to RFERL, Russian officials have been offering their EU counterparts the vaccine “like crazy, at every occasion, at every meeting.” Presumably, aside from seeking a reputational boost, Moscow’s bureaucrats are likely also concerned at the prospect of in-person dealings with diplomats who have been unable to access an inoculation in their own countries.
The EMA is still currently considering an application to approve Sputnik V for general use in members states across the continent, with an appraisal meeting due to take place this month. However, a number of national leaders have pressed Brussels to speed up the process of licensing the vaccine, including Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and Hungarian leader Viktor Orban. Their drive comes amid concerns over missed shipments from existing suppliers and a stand-off with the UK, which has snapped up vials manufactured on the continent.
While diplomats based in Moscow will have access to jabs, many back home will be forced to wait for the EMA’s decision. Despite that, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was optimistic about the prospect of another potential vaccine after a study published in the Lancet reported Sputnik V’s effectiveness as 91.6 percent against the virus overall and 100 percent against severe cases.
“We have received good data today from the Russian vaccine,” Merkel said on Tuesday. “Every vaccine is welcome in the EU, but only after it has been approved by the EMA.”
In late January, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which has bankrolled Sputnik V, announced that if the bloc authorizes its use, it could secure large volumes of the formula. “After completion of the main part of mass vaccination in Russia, the RDIF can provide the EU with 100 million doses of the vaccine,” it said, “enough for 50 million people, in the second quarter of this year.”
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