How the coronavirus vaccine can change the geopolitics in the MENA area

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It is clear that the coronavirus vaccine is increasingly becoming a geopolitical issue. The match will be played in particular in North Africa and the Middle East. On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reported that he had “talked to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the possibility of purchasing an option for the Sputnik V vaccine”. “We will discuss it in the next few days,” added the Israeli leader.

Meanwhile, Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem has already secured an order for 1.5 million doses of “Sputnik V” and said it is considering becoming a regional distributor for the doses.Hospital director Zeev Rotstein has become very enthusiastic about the unproven administration, causing some discontent in the healthcare community. That the vaccine is a tool to be used on the international relations table was also seen during the last summit of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, China, India, and South Africa).

The Russian President Vladimir Putin told leaders of these countries that the coronavirus vaccines developed in Russia “work effectively and safely” and urged the group of emerging economy nations to “join forces” to produce a mass of the vaccine. The Russian Direct Investment Fund, which financed the development of Sputnik V, has agreements with India and Brazil to conduct clinical trials and with pharmaceutical companies in India and China to produce it, the Russian leader said. “I think this is very important,” he added.

The Russian ambassadors are carrying out intense contacts with the leaders of Algeria and Tunisia so that these North African countries can access the purchase of the Sputnik vaccine. In fact, this is not just a public health issue. Exporting the coronavirus vaccine to North Africa can change the dynamics of the region in favor of the Kremlin, especially with regard to the Libyan file. Russia militarily and politically supports General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army and could obtain “favours” from Algeria and Tunisia in supporting its initiatives. It should not be forgotten that, at the end of 2019, Russia had announced a conference with over 100 Libyan personalities in Moscow.

A parallel initiative, stopped only by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum held by the United Nations.Turkey is also interested in producing Sputnik V at home and last Wednesday there was a telephone meeting between the two health ministers to discuss this possibility. “The head of the Turkish health ministry expressed interest in organizing the production of the Sputnik V vaccine at the facilities of Turkish pharmaceutical manufacturers, after toxicological studies were carried out, as required by local legislation,” the ministry of health said in a press release.

Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko has assured his Turkish colleague that he is willing to organize such tests, the statement said. Among the countries that have expressed interest in the Russian vaccine, there is also Argentina and the Philippines. Not only the Middle East and North Africa. The Argentine government also intends to purchase 25 million doses of the Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V. The authorities, explains the newspaper La Voz, purchased 15 million doses in December and 10 million more doses will be delivered this month. Earlier, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Kirill Dmitriev said that the Sputnik V vaccine for Argentina will be manufactured by RDIF partners in India, Korea, China, and a number of other countries that are establishing their own production of the Russian vaccine.

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