France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, said on Thursday that Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine would in all likelihood not be authorised by a scientific review before the end of June. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) will then consider marketing authorisation, a decision-making process that on past performance will take several more weeks.

Beaune’s comments came one day after President Macron and Chancellor Merkel spoke to the Russian president about obtaining supplies of the vaccine to make up for serious shortfalls in European vaccine production.

The French minister said that Russia has limited production capacity. He also criticised Russia for using vaccines as a propaganda tool. Moscow’s offers to supply vaccines were “geopolitical acts or publicity stunts which are used by our Russian friends to show to what extent they are present in the European Union,” he said.

Meanwhile, French political figures in the Alpes-Maritimes have accused their own government of playing politics. The right-wing member of the French assembly Eric Ciotti said it did not matter where the vaccines came from if they help save lives. His viewpoint was backed by the mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, who said that he could get his hands on thousands of doses. He called on central government to give him permission to obtain them.

Meanwhile frustration with EU vaccine supplies in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia has resulted in all three states accepting gifts of Sputnik V. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Igor Matovic of Slovakia resigned after facing strong opposition within his own government to the move.

FILE PHOTO: Clément Beaune Reuters