Russia says Brazil refusal to import Sputnik V 'political'

MOSCOW (AFP) – The developers of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday (April 27) criticised Brazil’s refusal to import the jab as politically motivated.

Brazilian health regulator Anvisa on Monday denied requests from several states to receive batches of Sputnik V, saying it did not have the data needed to verify the jab’s safety and efficacy. “Anvisa’s delays in approving Sputnik V are unfortunately of a political nature and have nothing to do with access to information or science,” the official Sputnik V Twitter account said.

It pointed to a recent US government report that said Washington had tried to persuade Brazil not to use Sputnik.

“The United States Department of Health, in its 2020 annual report several months ago, publicly stated that the United States health attache ‘persuaded Brazil to reject the Russian vaccine against Covid-19,'” the account added.

Anvisa said its experts had flagged “uncertainties” about the jab, which has not yet been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The Russian vaccine has so far been approved for use in at least 60 countries, including more than 10 in Latin and Central America.

Argentina signed a deal with Russia earlier this month to become the first Latin American country to produce Sputnik V shots, and will aim for full-scale production to start in June.

The Kremlin said Tuesday it needed more information about the Brazilian decision before commenting, adding that it was not in touch with Brazilian authorities on the issue.

But in general, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “We are against the use of vaccines as a political tool.”

Some Western countries have been wary of Sputnik V – named after the Soviet-era satellite – over concerns the Kremlin would use it as a soft power tool to advance its interests.

Moscow registered the jab in August before large-scale clinical trials, but leading medical journal The Lancet has since said it is safe and more than 90 per cent effective.

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