French President Emmanuel Macron does not believe that the Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine can currently contribute to accelerating the vaccination pace in the EU as the Russian drug has yet to obtain approval from the European health regulator.
"At this stage, the Russian vaccine is not recognised by our authorities ... So I don't think that the Russian vaccine today is a solution to an acceleration because it will take time to have the authorisation of the European agency and it will take time to produce on our continent such a vaccine", Macron told CBS News in an interview.
On Tuesday, Renaud Muselier, the head of Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region in southeastern France, said that he had pre-ordered half a million shots of the Sputnik V vaccine, pending approval at the European level.
The French secretary of state for European affairs, Clement Beaune, has expressed dissatisfaction over this decision. According to the official, it is necessary to wait for the decision of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on the Russian vaccine.
Last week, Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of the far-left France Untamed political party and a former presidential candidate, said that Paris had been aware of the high efficacy of Sputnik V since November, but refrained from procuring it owing to ideological considerations.
In the meantime, the EMA has been evaluating Sputnik V since 4 March. However, several EU countries, including Slovakia and Hungary, have already approved its use without waiting for EMA authorization. Overall, the Russian vaccine has been approved in 60 countries worldwide.