MADRID government slammed over Russian vaccine purchase talks
While all of Spain waits with bated breath to see if the country can pull off its ambitious vaccine plan, the regional president of the Madrid government, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, has once again come under fire for allegedly entering into talks to secure doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine before it has been granted European approval, and without checking in with Spanish central government delegates.
According to Spanish daily ABC, a meeting was held in Madrid in February between the regional Health Minister, Enrique Ruiz-Escudero and the honorary consul for Russia, Pedro Mourino, just one of three discussions to have taken place in recent months. According to Mr Ruiz-Escudero: “If we have the chance to import the Sputnik vaccine we will do so, and we will do so as fast as possible.”
The issue has caused Ms Ayuso and Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to once again be at loggerheads, and he has publically and severely criticised the regional president on numerous occasions for taking matters into her own hands rather than adhering to national protocols. However, Ms Ayuso has unsurprisingly defended the move.
“This wouldn’t be the first, or even the fifth or the 10th time that the Madrid region has been ahead of the Spanish national government and has analysed all the possible scenarios in which to fight the virus,” she said.
While Mr Sanchez reiterated the need for all governments, both regional and national, to approach the coronavirus pandemic and vaccination plan in solidarity, other politicians openly condemned Madrid’s talks with Russian vaccine manufacturers.
Edmundo Bal, of the Ciudadanos party, called the move “totally ridiculous”, while Íñigo Errejón, leader of the leftist Más País party said:
“There’s no point in negotiating a vaccine with Moscow when over Easter health clinics in [Madrid] districts weren’t vaccinating.”
On Thursday, April 8, the European Commission put a dampener on Mr Sanchez’s claim that 70 per cent of the adult population of Spain would be vaccinated by the end of August, stating that there is currently no way of knowing how many doses will be available in the third quarter of the year.
Sources from the European Commission told Spanish daily Vozpopuli that “it is still early and the European Commission does not have a stable number of vaccines to communicate for the third quarter.”