EU’s top diplomat hopes Sputnik V will be approved in bloc

The European Union’s top diplomat expressed hopes Friday that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Russia will soon be used across the 27-nation bloc

During a visit to Moscow, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said the country’s Sputnik V vaccine is “good news for the whole mankind.”

Russian scientists said it appears safe and effective against COVID-19, according to early results of an advanced study published in the British medical journal The Lancet. Researchers said that based on a fall trial involving about 20,000 people in Russia, the vaccine is about 91% effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill.

The EU’s medical agency has not yet received a request for marketing authorization for the Sputnik V vaccine. It said this week that the developer has submitted a request for scientific advice to the agency and a meeting has been held “to discuss their development plan and their further engagement with the agency.”

A key element EMA is looking at before approving marketing authorization of vaccines is the drugmakers’ capacity to manufacture doses in the EU.

The EU commission has not announced plans for a collective purchase of Sputnik doses, so far relying on the deals it sealed with other manufacturers. But member states can also decide to negotiate separate agreements outside the commission’s umbrella as long as they don’t compete with the advance purchase agreement negotiated by the EU’s executive arm.

Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov said he had intensive contacts with European counterparts about vaccines and that German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed with President Vladimir Putin the opportunity to develop cooperation between Germany and Russia.

“I think cooperation in the field plays a positive role,” he said.