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France slams Russia’s Sputnik vaccine as ‘propaganda’ tool

/ 05:49 PM March 26, 2021
France slams Russia's Sputnik vaccine as 'propaganda' tool

In this file photo taken on December 15, 2020, a medical worker shows a vial with Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) vaccine against the new coronavirus disease during the vaccination of medics at a clinic in the far eastern city of Vladivostok. – Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has sown division among former Eastern Bloc countries once ruled by Moscow, with some seeing it as a godsend and others as a Kremlin propaganda tool. The vaccine has 91.6-percent efficiency against COVID, according to a recent study, and is already being used in several countries around the world. It is yet to be approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for use in the EU but some ex-communist member states are planning to do so regardless. (Photo by Pavel KOROLYOV / AFP)

PARIS France on Friday accused Russia of using its Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine as a tool to spread Moscow’s influence and message rather than a way to fight the global health crisis.

“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,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Info radio.

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The Russian vaccine has come under much criticism in Western countries, while President Vladimir Putin — who got a Sputnik jab himself on Tuesday — has dismissed the skepticism as “strange.”

Le Drian said both Russia and China were using their vaccines to gain influence abroad “even before vaccinating their own populations.”

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The minister said Russia had announced “with a lot of media attention” that it would deliver 30,000 vaccine doses to Tunisia.

But the UN-backed Covax initiative had already delivered 100,000 doses to the north African country, with 400,000 more to come by May, he said.

“That is what real solidarity work looks like, that is true health cooperation,” Le Drian 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.

The European Medicines Agency 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.

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TAGS: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Diplomacy, France, Health, pandemic, Russia, SARS-CoV-2, Sputnik V, Virus
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