File Photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin shaking hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after a press conference during a meeting in Sochi. Photograph:( AFP )
'Issues of cooperation in combating the coronavirus pandemic were discussed with an emphasis on the possible prospects for joint production of vaccines,' Kremlin said in a statement
In a first, the Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel got on a phone call on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of jointly producing coronavirus vaccines.
"Issues of cooperation in combating the coronavirus pandemic were discussed with an emphasis on the possible prospects for joint production of vaccines," the Kremlin's statement read.
The phone call came a few days after both the countries started mass vaccination drives, with Russia's Sputnik V vaccine and German's pharmaceutical company BioNTech's vaccine in partnership with Pfizer.
Russia's local vaccine, Sputnik V — named after the Soviet-era satellite — was hailed as the first vaccine as it was registered in August. The vaccine was registered far before the trials were started, which raised concerns about its efficacy at the time. Since then, however, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have taken a lead and have been approved by several countries.
The Putin-led country started a mass vaccination drive in early December, making the jab first available to high-risk groups including medics, teachers and the elderly. The local vaccine was also sent to Belarus, Serbia and Argentina, and also announced to send nearly 2.6 million doses to Bolivia if the production rate is satisfied.
While the information about an ongoing phone call was reported, the outcome of the same has not been revealed. The Kremlin only claimed that an agreement was reached to "continue contacts on the issue" between the health experts and concerned government officials of the two countries.
The heads of the two countries also discussed the settlement between Kiev and pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. The topic was discussed in length as it has been on a standstill since signing of peace accords in 2015.