By SPS PannuNew Delhi, March 30: Germanys willingness to go ahead with Russias Sputnik V vaccine comes as a major step forward in the worlds war against the deadly coronavirus that jumped species to inflict death and suffering on humankind.At a time when there is an acute shortage of vaccines, geopolitics cannot be used to deny vast populations a proven vaccine needed to save lives and livelihoods.
As many as five Indian pharmaceutical firms including Dr Reddy’s Labs have also signed agreements with Russia to roll out Sputnik V, which will go a long way in bridging the current deficit in vaccines worldwide and speeding up the inoculation drive against the relentless surge in Covid-19 cases.India as the largest vaccine maker in the world has already supplied 76 countries with shots of the two vaccines that it is currently producing– AstraZeneca-Oxford and Bharat Bitoech’s homegrown Covaxin.
The tie-up with Russia will help to step up this effort and meet the huge demand.
The German government said on Friday that it would be open to using the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine once it had been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel herself directly referred to Sputnik jabs and said Germany “should use any vaccine that has been approved” by the EMA.
A spokesman for Germany’s health ministry echoed the same sentiment on Friday, saying that “all vaccines are welcome if they have been approved by the EMA”.
The EMA this month launched a rolling review of Sputnik V, in a key step required for its approval as the first non-Western coronavirus vaccine to be used across the 27-nation bloc.
“This is a good vaccine that will probably also be approved in the EU at some point.The Russian researchers are very experienced with vaccines.Sputnik V is cleverly built,” Thomas Mertens, head of Germany’s vaccine commission Stiko, told the Rheinische Post on Tuesday.
However, Sputnik has faced criticism in Western countries, and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Drian has accused both Russia and China on Friday of using their vaccines to gain influence abroad.
“In terms of how it is managed, it (the Sputnik V vaccine) is more a means of propaganda and aggressive diplomacy than a means of solidarity and health aid,” Le Drian told France Info radio.
Moscow hit back with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying : “We absolutely disagree with the fact that Russia and China are using the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines as tools of influence.”
Russia registered Sputnik V in August, ahead of large-scale clinical trials, which had raised concerns among many experts over the fast-track process.
However, later reviews have shown the vaccine to be both safe and effective in preventing Covid-19.Over 3.5 million people in Russia have already received both doses of the Sputnik V vaccine.
Leading British medical journal The Lancet announced on Tuesday that the Sputnik jab was 91.6 per cent effective against symptomatic Covid-19 cases, which laid to rest much of the international scepticism.
The green signal from Germany also comes at a time when Europe has fallen behind in its inoculation drive and there is a major controversy raging on the issue with EU blaming Britain for the shortfall in supplies of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.The 27-nation bloc has accused Britain of cornering most of the shots in what is being termed as “vaccine nationalism.”
The EU has also recently temporarily suspended the use of the vaccine saying that it was not safe and resumed only after the EMA gave the go-ahead for the shots.The move was also attributed to political reasons in the wake of the strained ties between the EU and Britain.
(This content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative