A Ukrainian pharmaceutical company backed by a prominent Russian-leaning opposition figure has applied for state approval to make Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.
Ukrainian firm Biolik said in a statement on its website it had applied to register Gam-COVID-Vac, also known as Sputnik V, in Ukraine. Russia on Saturday floated the idea of holding clinical trials in Ukraine.
Biolik’s application has been promoted by the Ukrainian opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ukrainian Health Minister Maksym Stepanov told Reuters the issue was being used as “political PR” by some forces and as part of Russia’s “hybrid warfare” against Ukraine.
“I am not going to assess the chances of the Biolik company. It would be very mild to say that we are not sure about the Russian vaccine. We do not know how the research was carried out,” he said.
Stepanov said Ukraine would sign more contracts with trusted manufacturers in the near future.
Deputy Health Minister of Ukraine Viktor Lyashko was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying Ukraine would only use vaccines that had finished clinical trials. Sputnik V is still undergoing Phase III trials.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the New York Times last month that the vaccine would be used in Russia’s “information war” against Ukraine.
“It is impossible to explain to Ukrainian society why not take the vaccine from Russia if America and Europe do not give you the vaccine. It is impossible to explain that to anyone who dies,” Ukrainian President said.
As reported earlier, Head of the Ukrainian President’s Office Andriy Yermak emphasised that Ukraine is negotiating with all coronavirus vaccine manufacturers except for the Russian Federation, since the vaccine produced in the Russian Federation is not certified at the international level.
Coronavirus in Russia-occupied Crimea
Russia illegally occupied Crimean peninsula, a territory of Ukraine, in 2014. The West did not recognise the occupation in response to which sanctions against Russia were introduced.
According to the experts from the Crimean Human Rights Group, the data of confirmed COVID-19 cases and mortality rates released by the occupation “authorities” of Crimea are significantly underreported.
Also, Russia continues to block any access to the territory of the occupied Crimea for international monitoring and international humanitarian organisations, and does not allow Crimean residents – Ukrainian citizens to travel to the mainland of Ukraine to buy medicines.