Ukraine is deeply concerned that Russia is forcibly vaccinating Ukrainian citizens in Crimea with its unlicensed Sputnik V vaccine, according to the Member of Ukrainian Parliament Rustem Umerov.
Umerov's comments came on Wednesday during his speech at the debate in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on "Covid-19 vaccines: ethical, legal and practical considerations."
MP Rustem Umerov emphasized that the situation with COVID-19 in Crimea is critical and mostly Crimean Tatar people would be affected by the forced vaccination campaign carried out by the occupiers.
"The World Health Organization (WHO) is expected to decide on the Russian vaccine «Sputnik V» only at the end of the first half of 2021. Thus, it is currently not a licensed vaccine," Umerov said.
Reminding that the PACE's report emphasizes that regulatory bodies in charge of assessing and authorizing vaccines against Covid-19 should be independent and protected from political pressure, he said: "Unfortunately, we cannot state the same about Russia."
"The report also calls on member states to ensure high-quality trials, but Russia refused to conduct a full test of its vaccine. Sputnik V did not pass the third stage of clinical trials: the so-called prospective placebo-controlled study."
Only after this stage, he said, one may be sure about the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine, or the absence of severe side effects.
According to Umerov, vaccination with a vaccine that has not passed this stage can lead to unforeseen consequences for human health.
Asserting that Ukrainian citizens living under temporary occupation are forced to undergo this vaccination with an unverified vaccine, he noted that public sector workers face dismissal if they refuse to do vaccine.
"Proportionately, the share of Crimean Tatars working in the fields of health care, education, and transport is significantly higher than that of other peoples in Crimea. Accordingly, it is the Crimean Tatars as the indigenous people of Ukraine who are more likely to be vaccinated with Sputnik V than the others."
Umerov informed that vaccination in Crimea began on December 15, 2020, and Russia plans to vaccinate 60% of the population in 2021. "Thus, by the end of February, they will have delivered 84,000 doses of vaccine to Crimea," he added.
"In general, the situation with COVID-19 in Crimea is critical. The occupation authorities distort statistics, there is a lack of essential medicines. The number of COVID-19 cases is growing, and Crimean residents often are denied testing for COVID-19. The situations, when there is a need to wait for an ambulance for more than 24 hours, are quite common."
Member of Ukrainian Parliament Rustem Umerov concluded his speech by underlining the difficulty to predict the health consequences of a forced vaccination policy for the residents of the temporarily occupied Crimea.