Merkel Says Germany Ready to Look at Russia’s Sputnik Vaccine
(Bloomberg) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel said she’s ready to consider using Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in Germany as she tries to calm concerns over her country’s sputtering Covid-19 inoculation program.
In a rare television appearance on Tuesday, Merkel said the Russian shot could be used to protect people in the European Union so long as it was approved by the European Medicines Agency.
“I have talked to the Russian president about exactly that,” she said.
It was the first time she has been interviewed on prime time since June -- when Germany approved measures to offset the economic fallout from the pandemic. She spoke shortly after the medical journal The Lancet published an interim analysis of an advanced clinical trial showing that Sputnik V provided strong protection against Covid-19.
“We have received good data today from the Russian vaccine,” Merkel said in the interview with public broadcaster ARD. “Every vaccine is welcome in the EU, but only after it has been approved by EMA.”
The chancellor and her government have come under fire after she pushed Germany into ceding responsibility for negotiating vaccine contracts to the European Commission. Subsequent delivery delays have been blamed for slowing down the distribution of shots, with Germany -- and its European partners -- lagging countries like the U.S. and Britain.
Merkel also reiterated her promise that all Germans will get a first shot of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of September, as long as drugmakers stick to their delivery commitments.
Even if new shots aren’t approved, there will be sufficient supplies despite earlier delays, she said on Monday after crisis talks with pharmaceutical executives, cabinet ministers, the country’s 16 state premiers and EU commission officials.
Germany has vaccinated about 3 out of every 100 people, compared with 10 in the U.S. and almost 15 in the U.K., according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. While Britain and America began immunizing several weeks earlier thanks to quicker approval, Germany’s rollout has been hampered by supply issues.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz on Tuesday admitted that the EU should have ordered more Covid-19 vaccines, while defending the bloc’s agreement to negotiate jointly with drug companies.
“We made a conscious decision to source the vaccines together and distribute them fairly,” Scholz said in a virtual forum on Europe. “But we must also be critical and admit that more should have been ordered,” he added, while underscoring his backing for a joint European strategy.
Scholz said the priority now is to speed up deliveries and “very quickly expand vaccine production capacity with all the resources we have at our disposal.”
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