EU Accepts Russia’s Application for Sputnik V Approval

The European Union has approved Russia’s application to register its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in the bloc, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Tuesday.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is funding and marketing Sputnik V, filed for EU registration of the jab on Jan. 29. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) had concluded its scientific opinion procedure for the vaccine on Jan. 19.

It is now up to the EMA to grant conditional marketing authorization to the vaccine so it can be centrally supplied to the EU.

The EU has already authorized coronavirus vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. In addition, it has signed vaccine supply contracts with Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi-GSK and CureVac. However, the bloc has grappled with a slower-than-expected vaccination rollout due to supply shortfalls.

Hungary became the first EU member to approve Sputnik V this month in a move to ramp up vaccinations.

During a diplomatic visit to Moscow last week, top EU envoy Josep Borrell said he hoped the EU would approve Sputnik V despite tensions between the two parties, saying the Russian jab will help the bloc overcome its supply shortages.

Peer-reviewed research published in The Lancet last week showed the Sputnik V vaccine to be 91.6% effective against symptomatic Covid-19, boosting international confidence toward the vaccine after months of skepticism over its swift approval within Russia.

EU approval of the jab would mark a major geopolitical win for Russia, which is facing possible new sanctions from the West over the jailing of poisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Kazakhstan To Roll Out First Locally Produced Sputnik Vaccine

Kazakhstan will be the first country in the world to locally produce Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine after a pharmaceutical company received government authorization to make the jab, the company said Tuesday.

The company, called the Karaganda Pharmaceutical Complex (KPC), “was granted certification” to produce the vaccine by Kazakhstan’s health ministry on Monday, KPC said in a statement on the Telegram messenger service.

A spokesman for the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which financed the development of the two-dose jab, told AFP that Kazakhstan is the first country to begin local production of Sputnik V. He said Brazil, India and South Korea are expected to follow.

Kazakhstan’s vaccination campaign began in early February with Sputnik V shots administered to the country’s deputy health ministers. Those jabs were part of the Russian delivery of 22,000 doses of the vaccine.

KPC in the central Karaganda region has said it expects to deliver 90,000 doses of Sputnik V across the vast ex-Soviet country of 19 million people by the end of the month.

The government has said it plans to inoculate 6 million citizens by the end of the year, with parallel mass vaccinations using a Kazakh-made jab called QazCovid-in expected to begin next month.

Kazakhstan has registered 203,259 coronavirus infections and 2,540 fatalities since it declared first cases in March last year.

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