Nicosia has decided to purchase the Russian Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine once the EU authorities approve it, said government spokesman Kyriakos Koushos.
Koushos told the Cyprus News Agency that the government would order 50,000 doses once approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Cyprus has already pre-purchased four million doses from the four EU-approved vaccine-makers, so the Sputnik V order is relatively small.
According to its website, Sputnik V is already registered in more than 50 countries, but there is no certainty that Brussels will put in a block order for it.
It is based on a well-studied human adenoviral vector-based platform.
Sputnik V started to gain broader international recognition after The Lancet medical journal published peer-reviewed results of interim trials showing a 91.6% efficacy and 91.8% for those over 60.
Publicly, the EU has dismissed Russia’s global coronavirus vaccine supply campaign as a propaganda stunt by an undesirable regime.
Behind the scenes, the bloc is turning to Moscow’s Sputnik V shot as it tries to get its stuttering efforts to vaccinate its 450 million people back on track, EU sources told Reuters.
An EU official who negotiates with vaccine makers on behalf of the bloc told Reuters that EU governments were considering launching talks with Sputnik V developers and that it would take requests from four EU states to start the process.
Hungary and Slovakia have already bought the Russian shot, the Czech Republic is interested, and the EU official said Italy was considering using the country’s biggest vaccine-producing bioreactor at a ReiThera plant near Rome to make Sputnik V.
Brussels has been criticised for the bloc’s slow vaccine rollout at a time when former member the United Kingdom is easing restrictions as its inoculation programme gathers pace.
Italy is intensifying lockdowns, hospitals in the Paris region are close to being overloaded, and Germany has warned of a third wave.
The EU has signed deals with six Western vaccine makers and launched talks with two more.
It has approved four vaccines so far (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Janssen), but production glitches have slowed its inoculation campaign, and some member states are seeking their own solutions.
On March 4, the EMA launched a rolling review of Sputnik V, the first step in a process that could lead to its EU-wide approval.
The decision on possible authorisation could come as early as May, but some EU states are against cooperating with Russia.