BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s vaccine task force will hold talks with the developers of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 shot, including the possibility of setting up more production sites in Germany, a government source told Reuters on Thursday.
The source did not give further details. German Health Minister Jens Spahn confirmed that Berlin will start bilateral talks with Russia over a supply deal for the vaccine, as reported by Reuters on Wednesday.
Spahn, speaking to WDR radio, said that the bilateral talks would focus on what quantities the developers of the vaccine might be able to deliver and when.
“You know, in the fourth quarter or 2022 we might still need Sputnik V, but to really make a difference, in our current situation, the delivery would have to come in the next two to four-five months, otherwise we have more than enough vaccine either way,” Spahn said.
Germany’s vaccine rollout has got off to a sluggish start, hampered by supply constraints and bureaucracy, although the number of doses delivered is expected to ramp up in the second quarter.
Russian drugmaker R-Pharm has said it will be able to produce Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine at its factory in the southern German state of Bavaria once it has been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). German vaccine producer IDT Biologika is also in talks about possibly producing the vaccine, but no agreement has been reached.
On Wednesday, the premier of Bavaria said the German region will buy 2.5 million doses of the Sputnik vaccine if it is approved by EMA, adding the purchase would take place in July.
The economy minister of the state of Mecklenburg Vorpommern in northeast Germany said on Thursday that his state planned to order 1 million doses of Sputnik V at a cost of 10 million euros, which would be paid for by the federal government.
But other regional leaders said vaccine procurement deals should remain in the federal government’s hands.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Caroline Copley; Editing by Susan Fenton)