A US government document published in January revealed that US health officials pressured Brazil not to purchase Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine. The startling admission was buried in a 72-page report from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and received little attention until Monday when the official Sputnik V Twitter account shared a screenshot from the report.
The HHS report detailed the work of the US Office of Global Affairs (OGA) in a section of the report titled “Combatting malign influences in the Americas.” The report says the OGA used “diplomatic relations” to counter influence in the Americas from states like Cuba, Venezuela, and Russia.
“Examples include using OGA’s Health Attaché office to persuade Brazil to reject the Russian COVID-19 vaccine,” the report reads. The OGA also pressured Panama not to accept the help of Cuban doctors and offered CDC assistance instead.
On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov discussed the pressure countries were under not to buy the Sputnik V vaccine, although he did not mention the US by name. “The scale of pressure in many countries is unprecedented, harsh, stripped of any diplomatic subtlety and so on,” he said.
Brazil has been hit hard by coronavirus and has been struggling to acquire vaccines. Last week, the Brazilian government announced it was finally buying Sputnik V vaccines, but its regulators still have to sign off on the purchase.