Austria and Russia are set to begin talks on importing Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, AFP news agency reports.
According to the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz agreed in a phone call Friday to talks over the delivery and joint production of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine.
“The issues of countering the spread of the coronavirus infection were discussed in detail, including the possibility of supplying the Russian Sputnik V vaccine to Austria, as well as establishing its joint production,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
The phone call, which the Kremlin said was initiated by Austria, came as the European Union faces criticism for a sluggish mass vaccination rollout after it was plagued by supply problems.
Several of the bloc’s member states, including Germany and Spain, have said that they would be interested in Russia’s vaccine if it gets approval from European regulatory bodies, while Hungary has registered the jab on its own.
Russia approved its Sputnik V vaccine last August ahead of large-scale clinical trials, sparking concerns over the fast-track procedure.
Kurz said in early February that Austria would be open to producing the Russian vaccine locally.
The Russian vaccine has not yet received European Union approval, but has been deployed in neighbouring Hungary and a number of non-EU states including Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Vaccinations in Austria are delayed due to delivery problems at AstraZeneca as well as high demand for the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines.
Earlier in the week it emerged that an Austrian doctor had attempted to import the vaccine unilaterally. The case is currently being investigated by Austria’s Ministry of Health.
A study by scientific journal The Lancet has shown the Russian vaccine to be 91.6 percent effective against symptomatic cases of coronavirus.
The EU has said it is currently gathering data about the vaccine in order to approve it.