Merkel open to producing Russia’s Sputnik in the EU

Test studies of the Covid-19 vaccine candidate Sputnik V are being carried out in Russia.Sefa Karacan | Anadolu Agency | Getty ImagesGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel is “open” to the idea of producing Russia’s coronavirus vaccine in the European Union, according to a spokesperson for her office.Germany has so far administered the highest number of inoculations among the 27 European nations since the rollout began in late December. However, there are broad discrepancies within the bloc, where, for instance, the Netherlands only started vaccinating on Wednesday.The EU has been criticized for a slow rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in comparison with other parts of the world, with the U.S., China and Israel among those leading the way in terms of the number doses administered.Merkel discussed the response to the Covid-19 pandemic with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. During the phone call, she said that she “is open to the idea of bilateral cooperation for the purpose of tapping European production capacities (for the Russian vaccine),” Ulrike Demmer, deputy spokesperson for the German government said on Wednesday, according to Politico.A spokesperson for the German government based in Brussels confirmed the same statement to CNBC.Germany has made it clear that this would only happen if the European Medicines Agency (EMA) were to give its approval to the Sputnik V vaccine. Europe’s regulators approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last month and the Moderna’s jab on Wednesday. However, the EMA has not yet received a formal request to assess the Russian Covid vaccine for administration across the EU. Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, the developers of the Sputnik V vaccine, said Tuesday that more than 1 million people have received the jab, the Financial Times reported.Vaccines for everyoneEarlier this week, Germany announced a further tightening in social restrictions, with school closures in place until January 31.Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Thursday there will be a vaccine for “everyone” this year. “In 2021, we will have 50 million vaccine doses from Moderna and 90 million from BioNTech secured. That alone is enough to offer virtually everyone a vaccination,” Spahn told German television channel ZDF.Germany has about 83 million citizens.Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Spahn also said “if all goes well” there will be a new Pfizer-BioNTech factory in February to expand the number of available vaccines in Europe. BioNTech is a biotechnology company based in Mainz, a city situated on the Rhine river in west-central Germany.   

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