The European Union has no plans to purchase or distribute the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, European Commission spokesman (EU executive) Erik Mamer said on Wednesday (10). The statement came in response to a question whether the European bloc was not afraid to use an immunizer produced “by a country considered an enemy of European democracy”.
On Tuesday, the EMA (the block’s regulatory agency) accepted the application for registration of Sputnik V, produced by the Gamaleya Institute in Russia. The immunizer will now be evaluated by the agency’s technicians and, if approved, may be marketed in the European common market.
“But that doesn’t mean the vaccine will be included in the EU strategy [o que significa que o bloco investe na companhia como parte de um acordo de compra futura]Mamer said. “We are not in negotiations with the maker of Sputnik V to buy your vaccine,” he said.
The spokesperson also said that he considered “important to underline that the negotiations of the European Commission for the acquisition of vaccines were done with companies and not with governments”. So far, agreements have been made with eight companies: Valneva, Janssen, Sanofi, Curevax, Novavax, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna. Of these, three have already been cleared for use in the block.
For a vaccine to be included in the European Union’s immunization strategy, it must have the approval of the 27 member countries. In addition, one of the essential conditions is that the manufacturer has production units within the block, to facilitate distribution, according to another spokesperson for the Commission, Stefan De Keersmaecker.
The discussion on the EU’s use of the Russian vaccine takes place against a backdrop of the crisis generated by the visit to Moscow of the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell. The diplomat was criticized for remaining silent when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the bloc an “unreliable partner”.
For more than 80 MEPs who signed a manifesto calling for his departure, Borrell’s performance was “humiliating”. In addition to the episode of silence, the Russian government expelled diplomats from Germany, Poland and Sweden during the same period, for allegedly participating in protests in support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, imprisoned by the government of President Vladimir Putin.
In response, Borrell said on Tuesday that EU foreign ministers will discuss proposals for new sanctions against Russia on February 22. “We are at a crossroads in our relations with Russia. And the choices we make will determine the dynamics of international power in this century, ”he said.
EU-Russia relations have been strained since 2014, when the Putin government annexed Crimea and supported rebel groups in eastern Ukraine. Until then, the bloc had tried to get closer to its neighbor on issues such as energy, climate change and the fight against terrorism. The EU has been a major proponent of Russia’s accession to the WTO, which was completed in 2012.
After the Crimean crisis, the EU suspended dialogue on issues such as visas and bilateral agreements and adopted sanctions. The astrites became clearer from 2015, with the intervention of Russia in the war in Syria, in Libya and in the conflicts in Africa.
The European Union recently accused Russia of being behind disinformation campaigns and attempts to influence election campaigns on the continent. The bloc also “expressed concern” over the constitutional amendments that allowed Putin to stay in power until 2036 and the changes that gave Russian law supremacy over international agreements ratified by the country and court rulings. international.
As of December 2020, 177 Russian people and 48 entities were banned from entering the EU and subject to an asset freeze, due to actions against the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.
Russia has been fighting back since August 2014, with counter-sanctions against agricultural products, raw materials and food. According to the European Union, the Putin government has also adopted a “blacklist” of European and American citizens who are banned from entering the country, but keep the names secret. MEPs have been barred from entering Russia in recent years because of this list, according to the EU.
Despite restrictions from the European Commission, the Russian vaccine is already in use in the European bloc. Hungary has approved its emergency use, even without permission from the EMA. In January, when Viktor Orbán’s government announced that it was considering implementing Sputnik V, Mamer said that “there was no doubt” that any vaccine made available in any country in the EU should first be approved by its own centralized regulator.
“We are not in negotiations with Russian or Chinese companies,” Mamer said at the time. “This is the European vaccine strategy. All Member States have signed on to this process. ”
If approved by the regulatory agency, Sputnik V can be bought directly by EU countries, even if it is not part of the bloc’s strategy. The main difference will be the higher price, because, due to the scale effect, the European Commission has advantages in negotiation.
In Brazil, the Russian immunizer is also at the center of a political controversy, after MP who reduces to five days the approval period, by Anvisa, of vaccines approved by regulatory health surveillance agencies in other countries.
The proposal includes bodies from the United States, the European Union, Japan, China, Russia and Argentina, which would expedite the granting of clearance for Sputnik V. Subject of a Intense political lobbying, the Gamaleya Institute vaccine was seen as a new investment from the federal government. Last Friday, Anvisa criticized the attempt to speed up approval of the immunizer.