Bild claimed on Monday that the idea had ruffled feathers in Washington, with unnamed diplomatic sources saying the move could be in violation of recent sanctions imposed against Russia.
According to the report, two of the institutes said to be involved in the development of the Sputnik V jab are included on a list of organizations which American officials claim are behind a secretive alleged chemical weapons program.
The paper said that US policymakers are “irritated” by a perceived double standard in German policy, simultaneously championing the cause of imprisoned Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny while also contemplating a purchase of the vaccine.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which financed the development of Sputnik V, announced last week that it had “started talks with the German government representatives on an advanced purchase agreement” for supplies.
The discussions are taking place despite the EU’s central regulator warning that a decision on whether to give the vaccine the green light for use by the bloc’s members could still be weeks away. Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Thursday that “we would discuss bilaterally with Russia, first of all, to know when and what quantities could be delivered.”
Berlin has previously pressured Brussels to begin negotiating orders of the jab ahead of officially getting the green light, according to Western media, to ensure that vials can be imported as soon as a decision is made.
A German healthcare company, R-Pharm, is also reportedly planning to begin manufacturing the formula in Bavaria as soon as this summer.
Despite the review process dragging on for months, two EU countries, Slovakia and Hungary, have already begun using Sputnik V as part of their national immunization programs.
Made by Moscow’s Gamaleya Center, a study published in the British medical journal the Lancet revealed that it has an efficacy of 91.6%.
Germany is due to receive the first shipments of US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine in mid-April. American drugmaker Pfizer is already supplying jabs for its national immunization campaign, and Massachusetts-based Moderna plans to construct a factory in the east of the country to produce its own formula locally. Russian president Vladimir Putin has previously claimed the pharmaceutical industry is actively lobbying against the use of Sputnik V in Europe.
Germany has already risked American ire over its agreement with Moscow to build one of the world’s longest gas pipelines. Nord Stream 2, set for completion this year, has been the target of sanctions from Washington, which claims the plan is a “grave threat” to Europe’s “energy security, and American national security.”
However, there has been speculation that the US’ position is driven by a desire to sell vast quantities of American shale gas to the continent.
According to Politico, a common refrain in Berlin is that “the Americans don’t care about Russia, they just want to sell us their fracking gas.” Work on the pipeline continues.