A Bulgarian parliamentary committee has passed a motion to purchase the Russian Sputnik V vaccine despite it not having been approved for use in the EU.
The health committee of the recently constituted parliament supported the Socialists’ (BSP) proposal to start negotiations on the purchase of Sputnik V, arguing that the government’s failure to date to provide vaccines to citizens should be offset by the Russian vaccine.
Russia has aggressively promoted its vaccine in EU countries. The BSP has consistently supported Russia, even though the party claims that it does not oppose the country’s membership in the EU and NATO. In the European Parliament, the Bulgarian socialists don’t support resolutions criticising Russia.
The health committee motion must still be approved in plenary.
Bulgaria expects nearly 4 million doses of EU-approved vaccines over the next two months, enough to vaccinate 50% of the adult population.
Тhe Balkan country ranks last in the EU in terms of the percentage of immunised citizens, with only 9% of Bulgarians having received at least one dose of EU-approved vaccines.
One of the reasons of the low vaccination rate is that Bulgaria banked on the AstraZeneca jab, and neglected the more expensive Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Another reason is that anti-vaxxers are very influential in Bulgaria.
Outgoing Health Minister Kostadin Angelov has claimed that there are enough COVID-19 vaccines in the country and stressed that under Bulgarian law vaccines must be authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Angelov told lawmakers that the Bulgarian Medicines Agency (BDA) does not have the capacity to assess the safety and efficacy of the Russian vaccine if it is released in Bulgaria before the European authorisation.
Chief state health inspector Angel Kunchev also said that the Russian vaccine had been used successfully in Serbia, but reminded that in Slovakia, its purchase had resulted in government crisis.
(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)