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COVID-19: Germany to buy 30 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine pending regulator approval

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By Euronews
Saxony's minister-president made the announcement on Twitter after talks with Russian officials
Saxony's minister-president made the announcement on Twitter after talks with Russian officials   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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Germany has agreed to buy 30 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19, according to Saxony's minister-president.

Michael Kretschmer made the announcement in a tweet on Thursday, saying the purchases will be split into three batches of 10 million doses between June, July and August.

This would be pending approval of the Russian jab by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which Kretschmer said he hopes will happen by next month.

Russia's Sputnik V vaccine is currently registered in 61 countries but has not yet received the green light from the EMA.

It is currently undergoing a rolling review for safety, efficacy and quality - and, while it cannot predict a timeline for authorisation, the EMA has said it would likely happen faster due to this review.

German health minister Jens Spahn had previously said the country would engage in discussions with Russia for an eventual purchase of the vaccine.

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.

So far, the EU has rolled out jabs from Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer/BioNTech.

The Sputnik V, if eventually approved, would be the first non-western COVID vaccine to be green lighted across the bloc.

Why now?

The EU has begun to accelerate its rollout after a notoriously slow start - but some believe this might not be enough. Faced with age limitations on recipients of the AstraZeneca jab, along with a lack of overall supplies has led to Germany making a slight breakaway to make negotiations of it own.

Hungary and Slovakia are two EU countries that have already received doses of the shot, despite a lack of EMA approval, while Austria and the Czech Republic have indicated interest, too.

Why is this a big deal?

There are a few reasons. For starters, Germany has been in-line with the EU vaccine procurement until now, and secondly, it marks a step forward for German-Russian relations, which have been increasingly hostile of late.

This comes from issues involving Ukraine and Syria, as well as the high-profile poisoning of opposition leader Alexey Navalny.