Macron, Merkel Discuss Navalny, Possible Vaccine Cooperation With Putin
March 31, 2021
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have discussed possible cooperation on vaccines with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the French Presidency said on March 30.
In August, Russia approved the world's first COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, prompting scientists around the world to question its safety and efficacy because it was registered before the results of Phase 3 studies were made available.
However, peer-reviewed, late-stage trial results published in The Lancet medical journal last month showed the two-dose regimen of Sputnik V was 91.6 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19, about the same level as the leading Western-developed vaccines.
Macron and Merkel also urged Putin during their video call to respect the rights of imprisoned political opponent Aleksei Navalny and to preserve his health, the Elysee Palace said in a statement.
Hundreds of Russian physicians signed an online petition demanding that authorities provide immediate medical assistance to Navalny amid growing concerns over the state of his health.
Navalny's health condition became an issue last week after his allies said they were concerned over his deteriorating health and called on prison authorities to clarify his condition.
Navalny said he was suffering from severe back pain and that "nothing" was being done by prison authorities to solve the problem other than being given some ibuprofen.
The three leaders also discussed the situation in Ukraine, Belarus, Libya, and Syria and agreed to coordinate efforts so that Iran returns to full compliance with its international obligations, the statement said.
The Kremlin confirmed in a statement that "prospects for the registration of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine in the European Union and its possible supplies and joint production in EU countries" were discussed, as well as the situation in Syria.
The Kremlin statement also said that Putin had explained the situation around Navalny's case.
"In relation to the issue of A. Navalny raised by partners, appropriate explanations of objective circumstances of the case were given," the Kremlin noted.
Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS
Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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