'Who are they defending?' Vladimir Putin attacks Brussels after bloc snubs Sputnik V jab

The Internal Market Commissioner, who heads the EU executive’s vaccine task force, told TF1 television on Sunday that Europe has “absolutely no need” for more vaccines produced outside of the EU.

The comment was lambasted by Russian President Vladimir Putin who claimed it was strange.

He said: “It’s a strange statement.

“We’re not imposing anything on anyone.

“This raises a question: Whose interests are these people defending and representing?

“The interests of some pharmaceutical companies or those of the citizens of European countries?”

Despite the damning criticism received by the bloc on its slow vaccine rollout, Mr Breton insisted the EU would be able to reach herd immunity by mid-July.

He said: “We have absolutely no need of Sputnik V.

“Today, we clearly have the capacity to deliver 300 to 350 million doses by the end of June and therefore by July 14 … we have the possibility of reaching continent-wide immunity.”

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Earlier this month, Mr Michel had cast doubt on Russia’s motives for promoting Sputnik V abroad, saying Moscow had organised limited but widely publicised operations to supply the vaccine to other countries.

Mr Putin told Mr Michel that Russia was ready to resume cooperation with the trade bloc but that ties were currently unsatisfactory due to the EU’s confrontational and unconstructive policies at times.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) launched a rolling review of the Sputnik V vaccine earlier this month.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which promotes the vaccine, said in a statement on the Sputnik V website that it had now been approved for use in 56 countries with a combined population of over 1.5 billion people.

Vietnam is the latest country to approve the jab.

RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev said: “Its approval in Vietnam, one of the most populated countries in Southeast Asia, will provide for protecting the people and getting closer to lifting the restrictions imposed because of coronavirus.”

Moscow has also given emergency approval to two other domestic vaccines, EpiVacCorona and CoviVac.

The Kremlin said on Tuesday it had deliberately decided it would not reveal the name of the Russian-made vaccine which President Vladimir Putin is due to take later today.

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