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Fearne pushes for joint EU plan for Sputnik vaccine




Health Minister Chris Fearne has called on the European Commission to negotiate with Russia to make the Sputnik V vaccine available to all EU citizens.

Last week, vaccine developers said they had reached production agreements in key EU countries as the European Medicines Agency reviews formal approval for the stroke.

Speaking to CNN, the deputy prime minister said there should be a common approach to providing the vaccine to EU citizens.

He said: “I believe that there is room for the European Union, the commission, to start negotiations with the Russian authorities, together, so that if Sputnik V is approved, then it will be available for joint procurement through the advanced mechanism of shopping for all European citizens “

Malta is leading the way in the EU when it comes to vaccination, and Fearne said about 24 percent of the population has received the first dose of the vaccine.

To date, almost 146,000 doses of vaccine have been administered while the island uses Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Fearne said one of the reasons behind the island’s success was that it ordered the maximum amount of vaccines that could be made through the EU’s advanced joint procurement mechanism.

“We have taken every opportunity to get as many vaccines as possible on our island,” he said.

Other reasons for the island’s success are due to a strong health care system and efficient use of the vaccine.

“Once they (vaccines) arrive on the island, of course keeping enough dose for the second vaccination, we are using all the vaccines we have available.”

‘Over invested in vaccine’

Asked about allegations from Austria that Malta signed ‘secret contracts’ to get more vaccines, Fearne said the island provided all vaccines through the EU mechanism.

“It simply came to our notice then. “If we get all the vaccines we have ordered we would have more vaccines than we need for our population, but that means we are getting a bigger number in the first and second quarters of 2021,” he explained.

He praised the EU’s joint scheme, saying that without it, some EU countries would not have been vaccinated.

On the subject of travel, Fearne said a vaccination passport would enable people who have been vaccinated to travel with fewer restrictions.

“The safety of our community comes first, it always has and will remain, but by restricting people who are safe to travel, I think we need to lift those restrictions,” he said.

EMA experts will visit Russia in April to review Sputnik

Experts from the European Medicines Agency will visit Russia next month to review clinical trials of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said on Monday.

“On April 10, a group of EMA experts are coming to get acquainted, (and) to review the clinical trials that have been conducted in our country,” Murashko said at a televised meeting chaired by President Vladimir Putin.

During the meeting, Putin dismissed foreign criticism of the Sputnik V vaccine and said he would take action on Tuesday.

Describing the EU’s remarks on the vaccine as “strange”, Putin said: “We are not imposing anything on anyone … Whose interests are protecting such people – pharmaceutical companies or the interests of the citizens of European countries?”

“Vaccination is certainly every person’s voluntary choice … By the way, I intend to do it myself tomorrow,” he said in televised remarks.

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