The demand came after EMA management board head Christa Wirthumer-Hoche said that she would advise EU against granting Sputnik V emergency authorisation.

A Palestinian health worker displays a vial of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine in Gaza, February 24, 2021.
A Palestinian health worker displays a vial of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine in Gaza, February 24, 2021. (Reuters)

The makers of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine have demanded an apology from the EU's medicines regulator after a senior official warned member states against hastily authorising the jab, comparing emergency rollouts to "Russian roulette."

Several EU countries have already begun distributing Sputnik V ahead of approval in the bloc, a move criticised by board chair of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) Christa Wirthumer-Hoche Monday.

"We demand a public apology from EMA's Christa Wirthumer-Hoche for her negative comments on EU states directly approving Sputnik V," the makers of the vaccine wrote on Twitter.

"Her comments raise serious questions about possible political interference in the ongoing EMA review," they said, adding that Russia's homegrown vaccine has been approved by 46 nations.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov later on Tuesday called Wirthumer-Hoche's statement "deplorable" and "inappropriate to say the least."

"No one should doubt that this is one of the world's most popular and perhaps most trusted vaccines," Peskov told reporters.

The vaccine has been approved or is being assessed for approval in three EU member states, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and EU officials have said Brussels could start negotiations with a vaccine maker if at least four member countries request it.

READ MORE: Are Chinese and Russian Covid-19 vaccines victims of prejudice?

Spreading misinformation?

The United States has denounced what it called a Russian disinformation campaign against US-made Covid-19 vaccines, saying Moscow was putting lives at risk.

The Global Engagement Center, an arm of the State Department whose activities include monitoring foreign propaganda, said that Russian intelligence was behind four online platforms involved in a campaign.

The sites have "included disinformation about two of the vaccines that have now been approved by the FDA in this country," State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters, referring to the US Food and Drug Administration.

"It is very clear that Russia is up to its old tricks, and in doing so is potentially putting people at risk by spreading disinformation about vaccines that we know to be saving lives every day," Price said.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the Global Engagement Center's findings, which said that the websites played up risks of the US-made Pfizer vaccine in an apparent bid to boost Russia's homegrown Sputnik V.

In an assessment provided last year to AFP, the Global Engagement Center said that thousands of Russian-linked social media accounts have run a coordinated campaign to undermine official narratives on Covid-19 including by spreading allegations of US involvement.

READ MORE: Russia registers its third coronavirus vaccine

Source: TRTWorld and agencies