PM Babiš Visits Budapest To Discuss Hungary’s Experience With Sputnik V Vaccine

The Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš visited Budapest, with the goal of finding out more about Hungary’s experience with COVID-19 vaccines and drugs that have not been approved by the European Union. Health Minister Jan Blatný has previously expressed his opposition to the purchase of vaccines without EMA approval. Photo: Prime Minister Andrej Babiš after arriving in Budapest, February 5, 2021. Credit: Archive.

Czech Rep., Feb 8 (BD)  – The Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) was in Budapest on February 5th to meet with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Their meeting was to discuss Hungary’s experience with COVID-19 vaccines and drugs that have not been approved by the European Union, and their possible use in the Czech Republic. Babiš arrived in Budapest with a team of doctors, epidemiologists and virologists. 

“We discussed our experience with the Bamlanivimab antibody from Eli Lilly, which we also managed to secure,” said Babiš after the meeting. “The Czech Republic could receive the first 500 doses in February and we want to continue purchasing. It is a substance that prevents a COVID-19 positive person from ending up in the ICU, or rather prevents a severe course of the disease. The experience of Hungary, which is already using the substance, is valuable to us.” He had previously confirmed via Twitter the purchase of Eli Lilly’s drugs, which have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. The product is also in use in Germany and Canada. 

Babiš wrote on Twitter that “In Hungary, we agreed that the best vaccine is a safe vaccine and one we have available. It’s not about politics, all the more so because we still don’t have enough vaccines and time is running out. Therefore, we want the EMA to approve the Russian Sputnik V, and together with our experts, we will consider the Hungarian route.” 

Hungarian hospitals have been using the Russian Sputnik V vaccine since January, and Babiš said he was interested to hear from Orban “how the Hungarian government is dealing with vaccines that are not in use in the European Union.” The meeting also covered the tightening of travel rules within the EU and from third countries in response to new variants of the virus. 

In January, however, Minister of Health Jan Blatný expressed his opposition to purchasing any vaccine without the approval of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). “We are one of the European states that honors the agreements in force within the European Union. I have nothing against any vaccine, be it from Russia, China, India, anywhere, if it is approved by the EMA,” he said. On the other hand, his predecessor Roman Prymula, now one of Babiš’s advisers, expressed his support for Sputnik V: “Going directly like Hungary is more advantageous, because Hungary received two million vaccines in this way.” 

Babiš also called for citizens to seek medical help and get tested in the case of COVID-19 symptoms, adding that: “It is necessary that people do not wait and suffocate at home and then go to the hospital at the last minute. This is a big problem.”

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