Russia wants Slovakia to return its Sputnik V vaccines

FILE - In this Monday March 1, 2021 file photo, Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic, right, and Health Minister Marek Krajci at Kosice Airport, Slovakia, as Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine arrives. Two parties in Slovakias ruling coalition called on the conservative prime minister to resign to open the way for a reconstruction of the government amid a political crisis triggered by a secret deal to buy Russia's coronavirus vaccine. (Frantisek Ivan/TASR via AP, File)

PRAGUE – Russia asked Slovakia on Thursday to return its Sputnik V vaccines it has received “due to multiple contract violations.”

The official Twitter account of the Sputnik V vaccine said Slovakia’s drug regulator “in violation of existing contract and in an act of sabotage” tested Sputnik V “in a laboratory which is not part of the EU’s Official Medicines Control Laboratory network.”

It tweeted Slovakia’s State Institute for Drug Control “has launched a disinformation campaign against Sputnik V and plans additional provocations.”

The Slovak institute said the network of EU certified labs tests only vaccines registered in the European Union, which is not the case of Sputnik. It added it doesn’t know details about the Russian-Slovak contract because it was classified.

The announcement was published just hours after the Slovak regulator said it has not received enough information about the Russian vaccine from its producer to be able to assess its benefits and risks. The Slovak institute said about 80% of the requested data have not been provided.

It said the vaccine delivered to Slovakia is different from the Sputnik V vaccine that is considered 91% effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19, according to a study published in the Lancet.

Sputnik V has not yet been approved for use in the EU, but the body’s regulator, the European Medicines Agency, started a rolling review of the vaccine last month. The Slovak drug agency said the Sputnik V vaccine being reviewed by the EU is also different from the one sent to Slovakia.

The Russian side called it “fake news.”