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Germany to discuss potential Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine purchase with Russia

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Jens Spahn, Federal Minister of Health, takes off his mouth-nose protection at the Federal Press Conference in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, April 1, 2021.
Jens Spahn, Federal Minister of Health, takes off his mouth-nose protection at the Federal Press Conference in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, April 1, 2021.   -   Copyright  Michael Kappeler/dpa via AP
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Germany's health minister Jens Spahn announced on Thursday that his country would engage in discussions with Russia for an eventual purchase of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine.

The vaccine is currently under rolling review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

"I explained on behalf of Germany to the Council of Health Ministers of the EU, that we would discuss bilaterally with Russia, first of all to know when and what quantities could be delivered," the minister told the regional radio station WDR.

Spahn said that the European Commission had announced on Wednesday that it would not negotiate on behalf of the 27 member states to purchase the Sputnik V vaccine as a bloc.

The Russian coronavirus vaccine is already registered in 59 countries but has not yet received the green light from the EMA.

The vaccine is 91.6% effective, according to the Phase III clinical trial results published in the Lancet. The most common side effects were flu-like illness, injection site reactions, headache, and lack of energy.

Spahn's announcement comes after the German state of Bavaria negotiated a "preliminary contract" to receive 2.5 million doses of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V, according to the regional leader.

The EU’s vaccination rollout has been criticised for being too slow and some member states have said they would potentially purchase the Russian vaccine.

Currently, Hungary is the only EU member state administering the vaccine.

EU countries are under pressure to vaccinate more of their populations.

On average, EU countries have given a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine to 15% of their adult population in the EU whereas more than 60% of adults in the UK have received a first dose and over 40% of adults in the US have had their first dose.