PARIS (Reuters) - The European Union does not need Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19 and can achieve immunity across the continent using European production, a leading EU executive said on Sunday in comments that provoked a backlash from the vaccine maker.
The European Commission has been criticised for a slow vaccine rollout when the bloc faces a rise in cases and as former member Britain’s inoculation programme gathers pace.
“We have absolutely no need of Sputnik V,” Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, who heads the EU executive’s vaccine task force, told TF1 television.
“Today, we clearly have the capacity to deliver 300 to 350 million doses by the end of June and therefore by July 14 ... we have the possibility of reaching continent-wide immunity,” he said.
July 14, or Bastille day, is France’s national day.
Breton repeated a previous comment that the EU should help Russia with production of the vaccine if needed but priority should be given to the Europeans, he said.
“Doses are there, now people must accept vaccination and that we have the logistics,” he said.
In a series of Twitter posts, the Sputnik V vaccine maker accused Breton of being “clearly biased”.
“Europeans want a choice of safe and efficient vaccines, which you so far failed to provide,” it said. “If this is an official position of the EU, please inform us that there is no reason to pursue EMA approval because of your political biases. We will continue to save lives in other countries.”
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) launched a rolling review of the Sputnik V vaccine earlier this month.
Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Barbara Lewis and Daniel Wallis
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