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Germany says ready to use Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine if approved by EMA

The German government said Friday that it would be open to using the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine once it had been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Germany says ready to use Russia's Sputnik V vaccine if approved by EMA
An employee of a health clinic in Tunisia holds up the Sputnik V vaccine. Photo: DPA

“EMA approval — which Sputnik does not yet have — would provide the opportunity to use the vaccine in inoculation campaigns in Europe, and it would then also be worth considering for Germany,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert.

He refused to be drawn over France’s accusation against Moscow of using the jabs as a “propaganda” tool.

Last week, Merkel herself directly referred to Sputnik jabs and said Germany “should use any vaccine that has been approved” by the EMA.

READ ALSO: ‘We can work together’: Germany moves to bring Russian vaccine into EU

A spokesman for the health ministry echoed the same sentiment on Friday, saying that “all vaccines are welcome if they have been approved by the EMA”.

The EMA this month launched a rolling review of Sputnik V, a key step towards it being approved as the first non-Western coronavirus jab to be used across the 27-nation bloc.

Yet Sputnik has faced criticism in Western countries, and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Drian accused Russia and China on Friday of using their jabs to gain influence abroad.

“In terms of how it is managed, it (the Sputnik V vaccine) is more a means of propaganda and aggressive diplomacy than a means of solidarity and health aid,” Le Drian told France Info radio.

His comments were swiftly dismissed by Moscow.

“We absolutely disagree with the fact that Russia and China are using the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines as tools of influence,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Russia registered Sputnik V in August, ahead of large-scale clinical trials, prompting worries among many experts over the fast-track process.

Later reviews have been largely positive, with leading medical journal The Lancet publishing results showing it is safe and more than 90 percent effective.

READ ALSO: German vaccine boss praises Russian vaccine as ‘clever’

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COVID-19 RULES

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now

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