Europe begins to study the approval of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine amid criticism of the Commission’s management: how does this affect vaccinations in Spain
The European Medicines Agency has just announced that it has started the preliminary analysis of Sputnik V, the Gayamela Institute vaccine and that Vladimir Putin himself presented in summer as “the first vaccine in the world”. It is the first movement in a long process that, as the European Commission has repeated for weeks, is conditioned on the production of the injectable being carried out in a plant within the territory of the Union.
If the Commission has some leeway left to control the authorization process. Because as distrust of member states grows, this does not stop being a symbolic move at a time when the European Union and Russia are in full diplomatic conflict and even the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, he came to say a few weeks ago that he was “surprised that they are offering so much their vaccine when so few people are vaccinated in Russia.”
What has Europe decided?
What has the EMA decided? The Agency statement Explain that it is preparing to discuss “the results of laboratory studies and adult clinical studies” as they become available. Since preliminary studies “indicate that Sputnik V triggers the production of antibodies and immune cells specific to SARS-CoV-2 and may help protect against COVID-19.”
In other words, the Agency “will evaluate the compliance of Sputnik V with the usual EU standards as regards efficacy, safety and quality”. In addition, although he admits that he cannot put dates, he believes that “it should take less time than normal to evaluate.”
What we know about Sputnik V
What do we know about the Russian vaccine? The vaccine from Russia’s Gamaleya National Epidemiology and Microbiology Center burst onto the world scene when, in August 2020, Vladimir Putin announced that the country had achieved develop the first coronavirus vaccine (and partially approved it).
At the time, the major world players looked at Russia skeptically. Not because it could not be true (the technology was very similar to that of Oxford and, in fact, months later, the possibility of combining both vaccines was studied), but because the same data from Gamaleya indicated that there were still many trials to do. They were selling the bear’s skin before hunting it.
However, in recent weeks the situation has changed. The remaining trials were completed throughout 2020 and On February 2, 2021, The Lancet published data that supported surprisingly high evidence (around 91.6%) for the type of vaccine we are talking about. Simultaneously and despite the fact that the vaccination rate in the country is very low, Russia has been launching a “geopolitical” campaign that has obtained partial approvals in more than a dozen countries in South America and the former Soviet sphere of influence.
Will it arrive in Spain?
And meanwhile in Europe. The European Commission continues to have problems related to a shortage of vaccines. So much so that many countries have decided to get out of the “common framework” and start looking for solutions on their own. Austria and Denmark, for example, they want to ally with Israel to produce and distribute coronavirus vaccines. On the other hand, Poland has ordered vaccines from China and Slovakia ordered 2 million doses of Sputnik V.
In this sense, the EMA movement can be understood as a defensive strategy. After all, as happened in the United Kingdom when it advanced the approval of vaccines, European legislation allows member states to approve the different vaccines on their own and the image of having several vaccines circulating on the continent while the EMA is still involved pending could damage, even more, the image of the Union at this point.
Will the vaccine ever be used in Spain? It is difficult to know. Fundamentally, because the answer depends on how you evolve the supply of the rest of vaccines. At a theoretical level, Spain has already bought more vaccines than it needs and its strategy of putting all the ones that are arriving has generated that these days we are doing record vaccinations. That is, on paper, we would not need the Russian vaccine: by the time it is approved, the abundance of vaccines could make it unnecessary. However, if we have learned something during this year, it is that it is better to be prepared for all scenarios.