Politics

IDS accuses the EU of ‘kissing the backside’ of Russia for coronavirus vaccines

UK secure CureVac deal to develop new coronavirus vaccines

The former Tory leader called out the EU after the bloc’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, held a joint press conference with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov. During the press conference, Mr Borrell congratulated Russia for its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, which was approved by Moscow in August last year without clinical trials. It comes as EU leaders condemned Russia for arresting Alexei Navalny, opposition politician and campaigner, and before the European drugs authority approved Sputnik V.

Mr Borrell praised Russia for developing Sputnik V and welcomed the new jab.

He said: “I take the floor to just congratulate Russia for this success.

“It’s good news for the whole mankind because it means we are going to have more tools to face the pandemic.”

The foreign affairs chief then cited the results of a clinical trial for Sputnik V in the Lancet, which found the vaccine is effective against symptomatic coronavirus.

He added: “Now I am hoping that the European Medical Agency will be able to certify the efficiency of this vaccine in order to be used also in European Union Member States.

“It would be good news, because, as you know, we are facing a shortage of vaccines and if there is another source of supply, [it would be] welcomed.”

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Sir Iain blasted the EU official for his comments during the press conference.

He said: “This is an example of the EU kissing the backside of Russia.”

Others were drawn to Mr Borrell’s comments, with a former US official for President Barack Obama criticising the foreign affairs chief for being “played”.

They told the Daily Telegraph: “Borrell should not have gone to Moscow in the absence of securing some kind of substantial deliverable in advance.”

At the joint press conference, Mr Lavrov routinely bashed the EU for imposing sanctions on Russia, calling them an “unreliable partner”.

Mr Lavrov and Mr Borrell also spoke as three “persona non grata” European diplomats were expelled from Russia after joining protests in St Petersburg, making the EU official look “unprepared”.

An EU diplomat said: “It was not a good performance by Mr Borrell. He was unprepared.

“Mr Lavrov played by his own rules and got everything he wanted.”

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Sputnik V was found to be 91.6 percent against symptomatic coronavirus in interim results of a clinical trial with 20,000 participants.

Prof Ian Jones from Reading University said in the Lancet: “The development of the Sputnik V vaccine has been criticised for unseemly haste, corner cutting, and an absence of transparency.

“But the outcome reported here is clear and the scientific principle of vaccination is demonstrated, which means another vaccine can now join the fight to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.”

It comes after the EU has struggled to rollout coronavirus vaccines due to issues with supply from AstraZeneca and Pfizer.

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