Moscow: Last week, Joseph Borrell, European Union Foreign Minister, visited Russia. During the visit, Borrell congratulated Russia on the vaccine’s successful development against Coronavirus during a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. A few days before this, Lancet, the globally leading scientific journal, carried information that the Russian vaccine had attained a success rate of 91%. Over a short time of four days, these developments have prompted talks that Russia is trying to strengthen its position on the international level through ‘Vaccine Diplomacy’.
Last year, when the Coronavirus created worldwide havoc, Russian President Vladimir Putin had announced that the vaccine for the virus was developed. Severe reactions had been received from Europe and the United States over the statement. There was scepticism about the Russian vaccine as the announcement was made while the third phase of testing was underway. But Russia gave an expeditious approval and started administering the vaccine to its citizens.
In December, Russia announced that the vaccine was open to the world. Till then, the US, European countries and China had already launched their vaccines in the market. Former US President, Donald Trump prioritised immunisation of the US citizens and ordered millions of vaccine doses. Extensive immunisation campaign started in the United Kingdom with the vaccine developed by a British company. Against this background, Russia started negotiating with various countries for the supply of the vaccine.
While all this was being done, reports of major irregularities in the European Union’s immunisation campaign also emerged. The European countries got affected for not signing proper agreements with the US and UK companies. Moreover, they also suffered for not appointing a credible agency to implement the vaccination program. Therefore, Europe eventually turned to Russia for help. Furthermore, Hungary signed an agreement with Russia for the vaccine without the Union’s approval and it has received 40,000 doses of it. The Russian vaccine has also reached Serbia, and the countries Slovakia and Austria have expressed interest in manufacturing the Russian vaccine. Leading European countries like Germany also shown an inclination towards cooperating with Russia for the vaccine.
Other than Europe, Latin America, Africa and Central Asia can possibly use the Russian vaccine. Today, 20 countries, including Brazil, Argentina and Iran, have shown interest in using the Russian vaccine. Countries like India, South Korea, and Kazakhstan have already started manufacturing the Russian vaccine locally. The British company has started moves to develop a new vaccine combining the British and Russian vaccines.