Ukraine’s Minister of Culture Oleksandr Tkachenko accused Russia of waging a disinformation campaign against the AstraZeneca vaccine in order to promote its own vaccine, Sputnik V, in the European market. 

Sixteen European countries have already stopped using the AstraZeneca vaccine after several reports of severe blood clots, including Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Ukraine will continue to use it as there have been no reported cases of blood clots here, according to the Ministry of Health.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) said there is no link and urged countries not to pause their vaccination drives. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) will hold a special meeting on March 18, to address the issue. AstraZeneca has defended the safety of its product. 

“All of a sudden, there is a wave of information about the alleged danger of Sputnik’s direct competitor,” Tkachenko wrote on his Telegram Channel on March 16. 

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EMA has started its review of Sputnik V in the beginning of March, according to its homepage. 

Although the Russian vaccine has not yet been approved in the EU, companies are already offering their services as manufacturers and partners of Moscow.

Initially, there was some resistance because Sputnik V was registered in Russia last summer as the world’s first Corona treatment without going through the 3rd phase clinical tests required for vaccine approval.

But as the wait for other vaccines is long, some Eastern European countries such as Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have already approved Sputnik V on their own.

Italy, Spain, France, and Germany are considering the production of Sputnik V to supplement or replace other vaccines, including AstraZeneca. 

“(Russia) uses information to destroy the competitor’s vaccine, and then presses European politicians to allow the use of Sputnik,” Tkachenko wrote. 

Sputnik V is now approved in almost 50 countries. Demand for it is especially high in developing countries because of its comparatively low price.

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According to its own data, Russia leads Europe in the number of vaccinations administered and has already vaccinated more than 3.5 million people.

“I would very carefully check the sources from which the information about the pseudo-danger of the AstraZeneca vaccine comes and who lobbied for the spread of these horror stories in the European media,” Tkachenko wrote. 

AstraZeneca wrote on its homepage that the safety of its vaccine is based on scientific evidence.

Over 17 million people have been vaccinated in the EU and U.K. and have shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or thrombocytopenia.

So far across the EU and U.K., there have been 15 cases of DVT and 22 cases of pulmonary embolism reported among people who were given the vaccine.

This is much lower than would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of this size and is similar across other licensed COVID-19 vaccines, according to AstraZeneca.

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