Sputnik V makers demand apology from EU medicines agency

Several EU countries have already begun distributing Sputnik V ahead of approval in the bloc, a move criticised by board chair of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) Christa Wirthumer-Hoche Monday.

A nurse shows the Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a clinic in Moscow on December 5, 2020, amid the ongoing coronavirus disease pandemic. Picture: AFP

MOSCOW - The makers of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine Tuesday demanded an apology from the EU's medicines regulator after a senior official warned member states against hastily authorising the jab, comparing emergency rollouts to "Russian roulette".

Several EU countries have already begun distributing Sputnik V ahead of approval in the bloc, a move criticised by board chair of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) Christa Wirthumer-Hoche Monday.

"We demand a public apology from EMA's Christa Wirthumer-Hoche for her negative comments on EU states directly approving Sputnik V," the makers of the vaccine wrote on Twitter.

"Her comments raise serious questions about possible political interference in the ongoing EMA review," they said, adding that Russia's homegrown vaccine has been approved by 46 nations.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov later Tuesday called Wirthumer-Hoche's statement "deplorable" and "inappropriate to say the least."

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

Last week, the Amsterdam-based EMA launched a rolling review of the Sputnik V vaccine, a key step towards being approved as the first non-Western jab to be used against the coronavirus across the 27-nation bloc.

Hungary has already approved Sputnik V and started using it as part of its vaccine rollout, while the Czech Republic and Slovakia have also ordered doses and say they will not wait for EMA approval.

Asked about the prospect of Austria taking the same step, Wirthumer-Hoche told Austria's ORF broadcaster: "It's somewhat comparable to Russian roulette."

Russia has said it is ready to provide jabs for 50 million Europeans as soon as Sputnik V gets the green light.

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