Merkel in crisis: German state breaks ranks and turns to Russia after vaccine fiasco

Germany in talks with Russia for Sputnik vaccine says expert

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Germany is looking to join other European countries – like Serbia and Hungary – who use the Russian developed Sputnik V vaccine. German ministers are growing frustrated at the slowness of the Joint Procurement Agreement and are concerned Germany will not have a sufficient supply of the vaccine. However, the country is tied down by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) who still need to approve its use in the bloc and by the EU who have shown an unwillingness to work with Russia. 

Early stages of talks between Germany and the Russian Direct Investment Fund are reportedly underway. 

The fund is responsible for bankrolling the Sputnik V vaccine and monitor its distribution around the world. 

German ministers and leaders have been urging Angela Merkel to set up talks with Russia to tackle the domestic issues surrounding COVID-19. 

Chancellor Merkel has been grappling with local leaders over implementing lockdown measures but has faced tough opposition. 

But the move towards Sputnik V may ease tensions as using the Russian vaccine was a big negotiating point for German state leaders.

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But the decision to engage with Russia shows a departure from the old German position of EU unity.

Some local leaders have already set up talks with Russia and have secured preliminary deals which are dependent on EMA approval. 

Bavarian state leader Markus Soder – who was tipped to be a replacement for Merkel – said he had already agreed on a contract for 2.5 million doses. 

He said: “If Sputnik is agreed in Europe then Bavaria will receive additional vaccine doses.

“I think 2.5 million doses sometime in July through this company which is operating in Bavaria to then additionally increase the vaccine capacity in Bavaria.”

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YouGov polling suggests 55 percent of Germans would get the Sputnik vaccine with 19 percent saying they would reject it. 

The same percentage also says they believe the AstraZeneca vaccine is unsafe in a separate YouGov poll. 

German leaders have been pushing for Sputnik V use for a long time. 

Bodo Ramelow, governor of Thuringia, said: “We vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate but what we need is the quantity. 

“And that’s why the German government should finally sign contracts for Sputnik V, they should do their homework.”

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Michael Kretschmer, governor of Saxony said: “Every available vaccine has to be used, Russia is a great land of science and I don’t have the slightest doubt that scientists there are capable of producing an effective vaccine.”

But Germany still faces issues surrounding its vaccination programme as reports suggest thousands of AstraZeneca jabs sit unused in storage. 

Despite the EMA ruling, the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe with cases of blood clots being “very rare”, Germany is continuing to pause its rollout for under-60s. 

In the UK, those under-30s are recommended to be given different vaccines which are not AstraZeneca. 

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