Russian ambassador criticises Turkish Medical Association for ignoring Sputnik V

The Russian ambassador to Turkey criticised the head of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) for its exclusion of the Sputnik V in an article evaluating COVID-19 vaccines, Russian news agency Sputnik Turkiye reported.

In a letter to TTB President Korur Fincancı, Russian ambassador Aleksey Yerhov chastised his organisation for an article titled ‘Vaccines are the Common Value of All Living Beings' that detailed the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines without including Russia’s Sputnik V.   

“Our world has faced an unprecedented call that could be overcome by mobilizing the efforts of the entire world community, including the development of safe and effective vaccines that will save millions of lives and stop the spread of new types of coronavirus infections. The fact that the 'Gam-Covid-Vac' vaccine, which was developed by the Gamaleya Center, the first nationally registered vaccine in the world, was absent was obviously a slight surprise,” read the statement, using the official name for Sputnik V. 

Yerhov’s letter went on to highlight the Russian vaccine’s export to nine other countries, including submission for registration with the European Union, as proof of its effectiveness. He also brought up what he said was the vaccine’s 92% effectiveness, something Yerhov insists is comparable to its counterparts. 

“The political conjuncture and commercial criteria should not be placed above the protection of the health interests of citizens,” wrote Yerhov in his letter. “Our sincere wish is that the Turkish Medical Association will create an opportunity for itself to give importance to the significant contributions of our country to the vaccine development 'piggy bank' throughout the world.” 

There has been a number of discussions between Turkey and Russia about whether or not Ankara would acquire the Russian vaccine. Turkish regulators have been non-commital about purchasing Sputnik V despite expressing interest in further testing it. There was a brief public spat when reports suggested Turkey would not be interested in acquiring Sputnik V, a report Russian authorities denied. Turkey’s health minister later denied the initial report but insisted it would still need to be tested. 

Russia was the first country to register a COVID-19 vaccine on August 11, prompting doubts on its effectiveness by many experts for its swift approval. 

Turkey’s current COVID-19 cases stand at 2,387,101 and 23,997 patients have died from the virus. 

Vaccination began last week in Turkey using the SinoVac vaccination from China. Three million doses arrived in the end of December and 700,000 shots have been administered since, mainly to health care workers. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan televised his vaccination last Thursday to encourage Turks to trust the vaccine.