Bungling EU to turn to Russian Covid jab to plug vaccine shortfall, Brussels chief admits

EU ‘reputation has been knocked’ on vaccine says expert

Speaking on a three-day trip to Moscow, Josep Borrell hailed the Russian Sputnik V jab as “good news for the whole of mankind”. Despite doses of the vaccine not authorised for use in Europe, the bloc’s foreign affairs chief said he hoped the European Medicines Agency offers it the green light in the coming weeks. Speaking at a news conference, Mr Borrell said: “I take the floor to just congratulate Russia for this success, it’s good news for the whole mankind because it means we are going to have more tools to face the pandemic.

“Now I am hoping that the EMA will be able to certify the efficacy of this vaccine in order to also be used in the EU states.

“It will be good news because as you know we are facing a shortage of vaccines and if there is another course of supply, that is welcome.

“Congratulations on the Russian scientific capabilities.”

Mr Borrell is holding talks with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, who said he was willing to discuss “any topic” with the bloc.

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The visit comes amid international outrage over the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

President Vladimir Putin’s main political rival was slapped with an almost three-year jail sentence after returning to Russia recently.

Despite his gushing praise for the Russian vaccine programme, Mr Borrell recently commended Moscow and called for Mr Navalny’s immediate release.

Russia had previously informed the EU that it would be able to supply the bloc 100 million doses of its Sputnik V jab by the end of June.

The move would enable 50 million people to be vaccinated across member states.

An authorisation application has been submitted with the Amsterdam-based European Medicines Agency for the Russian jab to be used in the bloc.

Germany has come out in support of the Russian jab, as well as a vaccine made by the Chinese, to help plug the shortfall of European-made doses.

Earlier this week health minister Jens Spahn said Berlin is open to introducing jabs from the rogue states to the EU’s faltering vaccine scheme.

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He claimed doses of Russia’s Sputnik V jab and China’s Sinopharm vaccine could be rolled out across the bloc if they are approved by the EU’s drugs watchdog.

He said: “If a vaccine is safe and effective, regardless of the country in which it was manufactured, then, of course, it can help to cope with the pandemic.”

There are concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the Chinese and Russian vaccines.

Experts claim they have not been properly tested before being given the green light for use in their own countries.

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Hungary spooked the bloc when its own medicines regulator moved to approve the Chinese and Russian jabs for use.

Brussels hit out at Budapest for striking outside of the EU’s joint vaccine scheme but admitted it wasn’t illegal.

EU states are currently suffering a shortage of vaccine supplies amid an ongoing row with UK-based AstraZeneca.

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