Coronavirus: Vaccines

Germany to contact Russia about Sputnik jabs: Minister

BERLIN/JAKARTA • Germany plans to talk to Moscow about buying doses of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine if it is approved by European regulators, Health Minister Jens Spahn said.

Mr Spahn told public broadcaster WDR yesterday that Germany was prepared to go it alone, without the European Union, if it meant the country could speed up its inoculation campaign.

The announcement comes one day after German state Bavaria said it had signed a letter of intent to buy up to 2.5 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine if it is approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). In addition to the option of importing the vaccine from Russia, a production facility is also to be set up by the pharmaceutical company R-Pharm in the town of Illertissen.

The German government said last month it would be open to using Sputnik V if the EMA gives it the green light. The EMA has launched a rolling review of Sputnik V, which could become the first non-Western coronavirus vaccine used across the 27-nation bloc.

It has faced criticism in some Western countries, however, and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has accused Russia and China of using their vaccines to gain influence abroad.

Meanwhile, Indonesia is in talks with China on getting as many as 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to plug a gap in deliveries after delays in the arrivals of AstraZeneca shots, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Wednesday.

He told a parliamentary hearing that Indonesia would receive 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine via a bilateral deal this year, instead of the 50 million doses initially agreed. The remaining 30 million doses were due to be shipped by the second quarter of next year, he said.

Besides AstraZeneca, Indonesia relies heavily on vaccines produced by China's Sinovac Biotech for coronavirus inoculations, which began in January.

Indonesia has also launched a private vaccination programme to allow companies to buy government-procured vaccines and inoculate staff for free.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2021, with the headline 'Germany to contact Russia about Sputnik jabs: Minister'. Subscribe