Despite its publicly anti-Russian stance, Brussels is forced to view the Sputnik V vaccine as a lifesaving factor separating the European Union from disaster
As News Front previously reported, the ambitious European vaccination campaign has failed. What’s more, there have been problems with the AstraZeneca drug. One of the West’s key vaccines caused blood clots among those vaccinated, forcing many countries to stop using it when experts declared a third wave of pandemics in Europe.
Given the resulting crisis, EU leaders intend to start supplying the Sputnik V vaccine on a pan-European level, Reuters reported, citing sources in Brussels. Despite the EU’s ostensible scepticism, the official in charge of negotiations with vaccine manufacturers said that talks would soon begin with Russia as well. Requests from the bloc’s four countries are needed for an official start.
It is worth noting that Hungary and Slovakia are already actively using the Sputnik V vaccine, the Czech Republic is considering buying the Russian drug, and Italy, according to sources, is even ready to produce it at the ReiThera company near Rome. ReiThera, which is 30% state-owned, would not comment on this information.
To date, the EU has signed contracts with six Western vaccine manufacturers and is negotiating with two. Four drugs have been approved in the commonwealth, but the slow pace of vaccination is forcing authorities to seek solutions. The supply of Russian vaccine would solve the problem. Moreover, it would help to normalise Russian-European relations, which have been damaged since the coup d’état in Ukraine. On the other hand, such cooperation would surely lead to another split in the EU, as not all countries are ready to give up their Russophobic policies.
The EU’s official position has so far remained restrained. Nevertheless, behind-the-scenes discussions are noticeably affecting attitudes towards the Russian vaccine. If more recently the European Commission referred to the Sputnik V drug as “an instrument of the Kremlin’s foreign policy”, Brussels’ position began to change with the publication of test results. They showed that Sputnik V was 92% effective, which is higher than that of Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna.
A dramatic turnaround awaited the EU with the appointment of Mario Draghi as Prime Minister of Italy. The former head of the European Central Bank, praised in Brussels for saving the euro from its worst crisis several years ago, has taken a strong stance on vaccines to accelerate the pace of vaccination and production in Europe. He said the EU should buy more vaccines and expand production.
Now Italy, which was saved from COVID disaster by Russia last spring, is pushing EU governments to buy Sputnik V. At a meeting of EU diplomats last Wednesday, an Italian representative urged the EU to expand its supply of vaccines, including with Russian vaccine, a source present at the meeting told Reuters in comments.
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Roberto Speranza, Italy’s health minister: “If the vaccine works and the regulators tell us it is safe, I have little interest in its origin. Italy is ready to cooperate with the Russian government”.