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Russian Direct Investment Fund asks Slovakia to return batch of ‘Sputnik V’ vaccines [STORY UPDATED]

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has asked Slovakia to return a batch of “Sputnik V” coronavirus vaccines.

On Thursday, April 8, the official Sputnik V Twitter account reported that the RDIF had sent a letter to the Slovakian government on April 6, citing “multiple contract violations” and asking for the return of the vaccine “so that it can be used in other countries.” 

The RDIF also claimed that in an “act of sabotage,” Slovakia tested Sputnik V in a laboratory that isn’t EU certified.

Sputnik V’s developers also dismissed reports that the vaccine doses delivered to Slovakia differ from the vaccine used in clinical trials, the results of which appeared in the scientific journal The Lancet. The Russian vaccine developers called these claims “fake news” and accused Slovakia’s drug regulator of launching a disinformation campaign against Sputnik V.

Update (May 9, 2021): Spokespeople for the Russian Direct Investment Fund have issued the following statement: “As the laboratory used by SUKL for incorrect testing was not EU-certified for such testing, the batch of Sputnik V vaccine provided for Slovakia was sent to a certified lab in Hungary, and on May 7, 2021, Slovak Health Minister Vladimir Lengvarsky announced that the test run by Hungary’s National Public Health Center in the EU-certified lab confirmed that Sputnik V batch sent to Slovakia met all safety and other requirements. These conclusions completely debunk earlier incorrect Slovak statements to the contrary.” Minister Lengvarsky has announced that Slovakia on Thursday, May 6, received the results of tests carried out in Hungary on its supplies of the Sputnik V vaccine, claiming that the results are in order. The Health Ministry is now set to hold talks with experts and the Russians on how and whether the vaccine should be put to use in the country. According to the minister, there are only two options: either the vaccine will be granted a permit for use or it won”t. Lengvarsky claimed that the former will be possible only if the Russians agree to it. 

The first batch of Sputnik V vaccines was delivered to Slovakia in March. Prime Minister Igor Matovič made the decision to purchase the Russian vaccine without consulting with his coalition partners — the ensuing scandal prompted his resignation.

Sputnik V has yet to be officially approved for use at the EU level. As such, its use in Slovakia required the permission of the country’s national drug regulator. On April 6, the regulator announced that it could not yet approve Sputnik V due to insufficient data on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. 


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