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Iran Press TV

Russia rejects claim of discrediting US COVID-19 vaccines, EU states purchasing Sputnik V

Iran Press TV

Wednesday, 10 March 2021 7:24 AM

Russia has brushed off a US allegation that Moscow is discrediting Western-made coronavirus vaccines, as the Russian-made vaccine Sputnik V nears approval as the first non-EU and non-US inoculation in the European Union (EU).

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki accused Russian intelligence services on Monday of working to undermine the US-made Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc coronavirus vaccines.

She claimed that the White House had identified three online publications that Russia was using to spread disinformation about the two American vaccines, as well as international organizations, military conflicts, and protests.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that the Kremlin had "always been against politicizing issues related to vaccines."

"Russia has never participated and does not intend to participate in such campaigns against other vaccines," he said. "All these statements are absurd, have no basis in fact, and we really regret that anyone would take such statements seriously."

The Russian vaccine itself, the first to have been developed in the world, has been the target of dismissals by Western media, which described it as hastily prepared to serve political purposes.

Now some 46 counties have authorized Sputnik V, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which markets the vaccine outside Russia's borders.

Sputnik V could be made in EU after reported deals

The Russian vaccine could now be produced in the European Union (EU) nations, as reports say that the RDIF has struck deals with production facilities in Spain, France, and Germany to produce the vaccine.

The RDIF has also signed a deal with Italy to produce shots in the country, according to both the Russian organization and the Italian-Russian Chamber of Commerce.

They said there were plans for the production in Italy to begin in June and that 10 million doses could be produced by the end of the year.

"This agreement is the first of its kind with a European partner," Vincenzo Trani, the head of the chamber, said in the statement. "It can be called a historic event, which is proof of the good state of relations between our countries and shows that Italian companies can see beyond political differences."

According to an Italian government source, the Italian Industry Ministry played no role in the deal between the RDIF and Italian company Adienne.

The source said that the ministry had not even been informed of the operation, which is "legitimate" and "in line with market dynamics."

The agreement, however, will need approval from Italian regulators before production can be launched.

The deal paves the way for other EU member states to press ahead with plans — without waiting for the EU's regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) — to grant approvals to Sputnik V, which according to scientists is almost 92% effective.

The Amsterdam-based EMA has not yet approved Sputnik V but has begun reviewing the shot for possible approval.

The Russian vaccine has already been approved or is being assessed for approval in three EU member states, namely Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.

If at least four EU member states request to buy Sputnik V, Brussels could start negotiations about a possible agreement to purchase shots.

The EMA board chair, Christa Wirthumer-Hoche, however, sparked controversy last week when she said that Sputnik V was "somewhat comparable to Russian roulette."

Peskov reacted by describing that remark as "deplorable" and "inappropriate at the very least."

"No one should doubt that this is one of the world's most popular and perhaps most trusted vaccines," he said.

The manufacturer of Sputnik V also demanded an apology.

"We demand a public apology from EMA's Christa Wirthumer-Hoche for her negative comments on EU states directly approving Sputnik V," the manufacturer wrote on Twitter. "Her comments raise serious questions about possible political interference in the ongoing EMA review."

According to the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which has bankrolled the vaccine production, the production of the Russian jab will eventually involve many countries from around the world, including India, South Korea, Brazil, China, Turkey, Iran, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

France denies signing of vaccine contract with Russia

Separately, France dismissed reports that it had signed a contract with Russia to produce Sputnik V.

"As far as we're aware, no contract has been signed by a company in France to produce the Sputnik V vaccine," said a spokesman for France's industry minister on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, France's European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune called on EU member states not to use the Russian shots and China's Sinopharm vaccines before they are approved by the bloc's medicine regulator.

Beaune warned of a risk to the bloc's unity and public health, in remarks that prompted a reaction from the vaccine producer.

The Sputnik-V producer said on Saturday that, "EU solidarity should be about saving European lives by giving access to a portfolio of vaccines, including Sputnik V, already registered by 45 nations."

"EU confirmed that EU countries have a right to order Sputnik V directly," the tweet added.

French President Emmanuel Macron has left the door open to partnership between Paris and Moscow to produce the jabs, according to his advisor.

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