ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s southern Campania region has signed an agreement to buy Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, the regional governor said on Friday, adding that the deal will become effective once the shot’s use in Europe becomes authorised.
“We have signed the contract after weeks of negotiations … pending approval of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Italian regulator (AIFA),” said Vincenzo De Luca.
Campania, which includes Naples, is one of Italy’s most populated regions, with some 5.8 million residents. It has been among the worst affected areas since the pandemic took hold in February last year, with over 320,000 confirmed cases.
“Once we have vaccinated our citizens, we will offer the shots we don’t need to the rest of Italy,” De Luca added.
Earlier in March, EMA started a rolling review of Sputnik V, which was approved in Russia in August 2020 without waiting for full results of clinical trials.
EMA has so far authorized four vaccines in the EU, where supply delays from producers have hampered vaccination campaigns in several of the 27 member states.
“If all goes well, Sputnik won’t be available before the second half of the year,” Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Friday.
“I would be careful in signing these contracts,” he added, when asked about the Campania deal.
Italy has registered over 106,000 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the health emergency, the second highest toll in Europe after Britain.
(GRAPHIC – COVID-19 Vaccination tracker: https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/vaccination-rollout-and-access/)
(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Bill Berkrot)