Germany’s Merkel ‘open’ to producing Russian Covid vaccine in the EU

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is “open” to the idea of producing Russia’s coronavirus vaccine in the European Union, according to a spokesperson for her office.

Germany has so far administered the highest number of inoculations among the 27 European nations since the rollout began in late December. However, there are broad discrepancies within the bloc, where, for instance, the Netherlands only started vaccinating on Wednesday.

The EU has been criticized for a slow rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in comparison with other parts of the world, with the U.S., China and Israel among those leading the way in terms of the number doses administered.

Merkel discussed the response to the Covid-19 pandemic with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. During the phone call, she said that she “is open to the idea of bilateral cooperation for the purpose of tapping European production capacities (for the Russian vaccine),” Ulrike Demmer, deputy spokesperson for the German government said on Wednesday, according to Politico.

A spokesperson for the German government based in Brussels confirmed the same statement to CNBC.

Germany has made it clear that this would only happen if the European Medicines Agency (EMA) were to give its approval to the Sputnik V vaccine. 

Europe’s regulators approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last month and the Moderna’s jab on Wednesday. However, the EMA has not yet received a formal request to assess the Russian Covid vaccine for administration across the EU. 

Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, the developers of the Sputnik V vaccine, said Tuesday that more than 1 million people have received the jab, the Financial Times reported.