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‘All vaccines welcome’: Merkel eyes Russia’s Sputnik V jab after ‘good data’ show over 91% effectiveness in clinical trial

“We have received good data today from the Russian vaccine,” Merkel said on Tuesday in a TV interview with public broadcaster ARD after interim analysis of Phase III clinical trial data was published by the esteemed British journal.

“Every vaccine is welcome in the EU, but only after it has been approved by EMA,” Merkel said, referring to the European Medical Agency that regulates drugs. Merkel also said she had already spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the prospect of the Sputnik V jab being administered in the EU. 

Sputnik V was tested on 19,866 volunteers in the study, which found that it had an even higher efficacy of 91.8 percent among the 2,144 study subjects aged over 60 – and is also 100 percent effective against severe coronavirus cases.

The jab has already been approved for use outside Russia by 15 countries worldwide. 

The EMA has so far approved the three Covid-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford partnership, respectively, for use in the bloc.

The vaccine rollout across the EU’s 27 member states has been criticized as sluggish compared to nations like Israel, the US and UK, which have immunized higher percentages of their populations.

Merkel has also come under fire in Germany over the country’s vaccination strategy, which has seen around three out of every 100 people given the jab, compared to the rate of 15 per 100 reported in the US and UK.

On Monday, the chancellor responded to claims that the German vaccination strategy is inadequate, saying “something can always occur during production that cannot be anticipated.”

Vaccination campaigns across the EU have been dogged by shortages of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs. Both companies cited production issues at European manufacturing plants for a temporary drop in their projected deliveries.

Pfizer has since said it will deliver up to 75 million more vaccine doses in the second quarter of 2021, while AstraZeneca has pledged to deliver 40 million doses in the first quarter – 9 million more than it had previously promised after the production issues arose.

Last week, the official Twitter account promoting the Sputnik V vaccine said that, if the jab is approved by EU regulators, the Russian Direct Investment Fund could provide the bloc with 100 million doses in the second quarter of this year.

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