Paris | French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian criticized Russia on Friday for making its anti-COVID Sputnik V vaccine a “propaganda” tool.
“The way it is managed, it is more a means of propaganda and aggressive diplomacy than a means of solidarity and health aid,” he said on France Info radio.
Taking the example of Tunisia, the minister compared Russia’s delivery announcements with deliveries already made by the Covax international system of aid to the most disadvantaged, created by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Russia announced with a lot of media environment that they were going to give 30,000 doses to the Tunisians, very well Sputnik!” launched the French minister.
“But at the same time, Covax has already delivered 100,000 doses and will deliver 400,000 by May. And there will be a total of four million doses that are scheduled for this year in Tunisia. This is real solidarity work, this is real health cooperation, ”he said.
More generally, the head of French diplomacy pointed to the war of influence around the vaccine in which Beijing and Moscow are engaged.
“China and Russia are pursuing a policy of influencing vaccine even before vaccinating their own population,” said Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Citing the case of Senegal, he noted that when China announced “having delivered 200,000 doses to this country”, Covax had “already delivered” double.
Despite the proclaimed success of its Sputnik V vaccine, approved in 56 countries, with a lot of public propaganda, Russia is struggling to vaccinate its population, a large part of which remains suspicious.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was vaccinated Tuesday far from the cameras, denounces for his part the European criticisms, which he considers “strange” given the health emergency and the slowness of the vaccination campaign in Europe .
Initially greeted with skepticism abroad when it was announced in the summer, the Sputnik V saw its reliability validated in February by the scientific journal The Lancet. An application for registration is currently being examined by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).