The vaccine procurement fiasco in Europe has led some countries to turn to Moscow and Beijing in a desperate bid to get their hands on scarce supplies of life saving jabs. The Serbian government has managed to inoculate two million of its seven million citizens, thanks mainly to its heavy reliance on the Chinese-made Sinopharm jab. In January, Hungary became the first EU country to break ranks with Brussels and approve Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.
On a visit to Moscow, the country’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told reporters that Hungary had agreed to purchase large quantities of Sputnik V.
Many political commentators fear that Moscow and Beijing are successfully exploiting the vaccine chaos to further their political agendas and undermine support for Western democracies.
President Macron echoed such fears at a press conference following an EU summit this week.
The French President said: “We are looking in particular at Russian and Chinese attacks and attempts to gain influence through the vaccine.”
Both Russia and China have vehemently denied that they are acting according to their respective geopolitical interests.
They insist their vaccination distribution programmes are based purely on humanitarian principles.
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His Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, said: “Our intention from the start is to let more people receive the vaccine as soon as possible.
“For China and Russia, our choice is not to benefit only ourselves, but rather to help the whole world.”
Mr Yi then went on to accuse some countries of “selfish mass hoarding of vaccines”.