Macron and Merkel discuss vaccine cooperation with Russia

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to Moscow about the potential use of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, according to statements released by both governments.

In a joint videoconference on Tuesday, the leaders discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin the “possible cooperation on vaccines, depending on the progress of the review of the Sputnik V vaccine, which is currently underway at the European Medicines Agency,” according to the French government.

“This review will be based on the same standards that the EMA applies for each vaccine,” it added.

The Russian vaccine has been met with suspicion among European leaders, including European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, who last month called on Russia to explain why it was offering to export millions of doses while it lagged behind in its own vaccination campaign.

But as vaccine delivery shortfalls continue to delay the European rollout, some countries are turning toward Moscow to make up the difference. Austria on Tuesday said it was in talks to purchase 1 million doses of Sputnik V from Russia. Hungary and Slovakia have started to receive doses of the vaccine without waiting for the EMA’s sign-off.

Earlier this month, the Russian Direct Investment Fund signed an agreement in Italy to manufacture the shots at a site near Milan starting in July — its first production deal in Europe.

The Russian vaccine’s Twitter account claimed Tuesday’s call was a success, saying “Together we are stronger!”

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email [email protected] for a complimentary trial.

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