HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland’s health minister said on Thursday the Nordic country was initiating talks with Russia over buying its Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, which has yet to be approved for use in the European Union.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is conducting a rolling review of the vaccine as many European countries seek to ramp up inoculation programmes that have been hampered by delivery delays and lagged behind countries such as Britain and the United States.
“We will approach Russia and negotiate,” Health Minister Krista Kiuru told parliament. “This is in accordance with the European Union’s joint buying scheme since the union does not yet have agreements with Sputnik’s manufacturer.”
“We have this opportunity. I cannot say how it will go, but the work has begun in the foreign ministry,” Kiuru added.
Whether or not the vaccine can be marketed widely in the bloc hinges on the EMA approval, though two EU members, Hungary and Slovakia, have already approved the shot independently for emergency use. Only Hungary has so far begun to administer it.
Among other European countries, Germany is gearing up to start bilateral negotiations with Russia to obtain supplies of Sputnik V, though a final decision would depend on it receiving the regulatory greenlight.
(Reporting by Essi Lehto, writing by Anna Ringstrom; editing by Niklas Pollard)