Russia wants Sputnik vaccines sent to Slovakia returned

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Russian officials claim that Slovakia has breached its contract for the supply of Sputnik V. According to Reuters, they have asked the Slovak government to return the shipment of vaccines sent to the country. On Thursday, former Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovič was in Moscow to discuss future deliveries. At the same time, Slovak authorities announced that individual batches of the vaccine probably differ and that Sputnik delivered to Slovakia did not match the one reviewed in the medical journal The Lancet.

When Matovič was the prime minister, Slovakia negotiated with Russia for two million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, out of which Moscow has so far delivered 200,000. The vaccine has been in storage for weeks and no decision has yet been made on its use. Current Prime Minister Eduard Heger said they are awaiting the results of testing.

According to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is responsible for marketing Sputnik abroad, Slovakia has violated its contract for the supply of the vaccine. The fund, therefore, asked the Slovak government to return its shipment.

According to the TASS news agency, RDIF stated that the Slovak State Institute for Drug Control (SIDC) violated the contract by commissioning a laboratory that is not part of the European Union’s official laboratory network, although this network was available, to test a consignment of vaccines delivered to Slovakia.

SIDC argued that EU laboratories control vaccines registered only in the EU. Furthermore, due to a lack of information, SIDC has not yet been able to issue its evaluation of the benefits and risks of the Russian vaccine.

“According to published reports, Sputnik V is being used in about 40 countries around the world, but the only thing these vaccines have in common is the name. The comparability and consistency of different batches produced at different locations have not been demonstrated. In several cases, they appear to be vaccines with different properties,“ the institute said in a statement.

The different properties of individual doses of Sputnik V relate, for example, to the composition and method of vaccine production. Slovakia received a vaccine that is not the same as the substance being assessed by the EMA. The institute also added that the vaccine manufacturer did not provide about 80 percent of the required data about Sputnik V.

Daily Denník N wrote that the vaccine imported to Slovakia is not identical to Sputnik V, an evaluation of which appeared in an article from prestigious journal The Lancet.

In early February, the magazine published a study according to which the effectiveness of the vaccine in the third and last phase of clinical trials reached 91.6 percent. According to the study, there were no serious side effects from the vaccine, and the medicine showed 91.8 percent effectiveness in people over 60 years of age.

The manufacturer of Sputnik called the information about the different composition of Slovak batches “fake.“

“Unfortunately, we also expect additional fake news and provocations from enemies of Sputnik V in Slovakia who try to undermine the vaccine,” the manufacturer wrote on Twitter.


Matovič trying to resolve the situation in Moscow

Igor Matovič also referred to the enemies of Sputnik V or Russia itself when talking about the matter.

“When we brought Sputnik V to Košice Airport, blood rushed into their eyes out of hatred. They launched their geopolitical filthy game against Russia’s ‘hybrid weapon’ (…) And they didn’t care if there were early elections and the mafia would return to power. Today, however, they completed their work,” wrote Matovič on Facebook after the Russian request came to light.

“With their delusions, which they distributed throughout the world via Denník N, they forced the Russians to say ‘enough,’ and they asked us to return Sputnik and end the contract. Congratulations idiots! You have taken the health of a million people in Slovakia hostage! Open the champagne,“ he wrote, adding that he was not giving up, even though he still didn’t know how to proceed.

On Thursday, Matovič negotiated deliveries of the rest of the ordered Sputnik V directly in Moscow. “Sputnik is now being used to vaccinate large numbers of people in more than 50 countries around the world. Only in Slovakia does someone continue to play dirty games with it. Who cares about people, this is geopolitics!“ he said ironically.

The prime minister was removed from office by the government crisis, which erupted just after the secret purchase of the Russian vaccine and its ceremonial welcome at Košice Airport, where Matovič stood with his then Minister of Health Marek Krajčí, whose “exemplary execution” was also mentioned by the former prime minister.

According to Russia, he negotiated with Kirill Dmitriev from RDIF.

Title image: A nurse holds an ampule of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine before using it at the center for mass vaccination against COVID-19, A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Monday, April 5, 2021. The tiny Balkan country began mass immunization of the army, police and media workers on Monday with about 20,000 doses of Russian Sputnik V donated from neighboring Serbia. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

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