German vaccine boss praises Russian vaccine as ‘clever’

German vaccine boss praises Russian vaccine as ‘clever’
The Sputnik V vaccine. Photo: DPA
The head of Germany’s vaccine agency has praised Russia’s Sputnik V inoculation against coronavirus, saying he expects it to be approved in Europe.

“This is a good vaccine that will probably also be approved in the EU at some point. The Russian researchers are very experienced with vaccines. Sputnik V is cleverly built,” Thomas Mertens, head of the vaccine commission Stiko, told the Rheinische Post on Tuesday.

Russia approved Sputnik V for use last summer, something that led to criticism in the international research community. Other scientists questioned whether the vaccine was as effective as Russian studies claimed.

Some EU states have already started using the Russian jab, having granted it emergency approval. Hungary and Slovakia have both followed this path.

After the medical journal The Lancet declared in early February that Sputnik V is 92 percent effective, Angela Merkel declared that “every vaccine is welcome in the European Union”.

She said she had already spoken to Putin in January about how Germany could assist Russia’s vaccine efforts, offering the help of Germany’s Paul Ehrlich Institute with the EMA application process.

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Health Minister Jens Spahn also declared in February that talks were ongoing with Moscow to explore production capacities for the Sputnik jab in Germany or elsewhere in Europe.

Speaking at an online forum, Spahn described the cooperation with Moscow as “constructive and critical”, and stressed that the only way out of the pandemic was for the world community to work together.

SEE ALSO: Germany moves to bring Russian vaccine into EU

A Health Ministry spokeswoman told AFP that Russia had already reached out to German biotechnology firm IDT Biologika to discuss jointly making the Sputnik vaccine.

But the vaccine is still controversial among some scientists in Europe.

Christa Wirthumer-Hoche, from the European Medicine Agency (EMA) told an Austrian TV station that “there’s still too much that isn’t known about the vaccine and key data is missing.”

“Therefore, I would strongly advise against issuing a national emergency authorisation.”

Case rate falls

On Wednesday the Robert Koch Institute confirmed that 9,146 new infections with the virus have been reported in the past 24 hours as well as a further 300 deaths.

The numbers represent a continuation of the recent flatlining in cases. A week ago 9,019 new cases were reported.

The 7-day incidence fell on Wednesday to 65.4 from 67.5 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Four weeks ago that seven-day incidence stood at 68 per 100,000.


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