France could start using Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in its national vaccination drive as early as June, France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune told the France Info radio broadcaster Tuesday.
“The EU may use the Russian vaccine after it is certified by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and France, in turn, could start using it in June, at the beginning of summer,” the Russian state-run TASS news agency quoted Beaune as saying to France Info.
Beaune’s statement follows EU internal markets commissioner Thierry Breton’s remarks that the 27-member bloc has “absolutely no need of Sputnik V,” a statement that provoked ire from Moscow.
Beaune warned against politicizing global coronavirus vaccination efforts, noting that any effective and available vaccine should be taken advantage of and that France is “open to all options.”
“But if anyone is saying that the Russian vaccine alone could solve the vaccine shortage problem immediately — that’s not true. That can’t happen today and, moreover, the vaccine is produced in very small amounts,” Beaune explained.
He also stressed that France would use Russia’s vaccine only following its approval by the EMA, which launched a rolling review of Sputnik V to determine whether Russia can apply for authorization earlier in March.
EU leaders including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Italy’s Mario Draghi have recently signaled that, amid widespread vaccine shortages on the continent, they would order doses of Sputnik V for their own countries even if the EMA did not authorize it.
EU members Hungary and Slovakia have bypassed the bloc’s approval mechanism altogether and purchased Sputnik V for their own populations.
Meanwhile, Sputnik V’s developers have already secured vaccine production agreements with several EU-based companies, including in France and Germany.