Austria is negotiating with Russia about the purchase of the Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz confirmed on Tuesday, although it has not yet been approved by medical authorities in the European Union.
"When it comes to the vaccine there cannot be any big geopolitical blinkers," Kurz said.
"The only thing that can count is if the vaccine is effective and safe, not where it comes from," Kurz added.
The negotiations were initiated by Kurz during talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 26, the chancellery said. Since then, Austria has been negotiating with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is responsible for selling the vaccine.
1 million doses
The possible deal concerns the delivery of about 1 million Sputnik V doses, of which the first 300,000 could already be delivered in April. A final decision on the purchase has however not yet been made, the chancellery said.
"If Austria receives 1 million additional vaccine doses, an earlier return to normality would be possible, and we could save many human lives and jobs," Kurz said.
Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said the government was reviewing every possibility to receive more shots. "It's clear: Every vaccine used in Austria has to be effective and safe," he said.