Political foes clash over Moldova registration of Russian vaccine

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A medical specialist holds a vial of Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus in a department store in Moscow, Russia, January 18, 2021 REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov/File Photo

CHISINAU (Reuters) – Moldova’s medical agency on Friday said it had approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19, despite President Maia Sandu saying it could not be registered until the World Health Organisation had done so.

Sandu denied statements by her predecessor Igor Dodon and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which markets the vaccine abroad, that Moldova had become the 38th country, including Russia, to register the shot.

“Moldova will only use a vaccine that has undergone WHO registration procedure,” Sandu told reporters.

Pro-Moscow Dodon has been a thorn in Sandu’s side since she triumphed in a November election. Sandu, who favours closer relations with the European Union, has accused parliament, which is dominated by lawmakers aligned with Dodon, of trying to sabotage her presidency and curb her power.

But Moldova’s Medicines and Medical Devices Agency on Friday said it had authorised two vaccines registered for emergency use by the WHO – Pfizer/BioNTech, and a shot developed by Anglo-Swedish firm AstraZeneca – as well as Sputnik V.

“Deliveries of the vaccine to Moldova will start very soon,” Dodon wrote on his Telegram channel. “I would like to mention that the successful registration of the vaccine in our country took place despite the efforts of the Moldovan president’s office to block it.”

RDIF head Kirill Dmitriev also said the vaccine had been registered, but the Moldovan presidency was doubling down.

“Sputnik V does not yet have this approval and, due to the lack of our own research capabilities, we are waiting for the WHO opinion,” said Sandu’s press secretary, Sorina Stefirta.

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