Wroclaw, Poland - 12 Jan 2021: Medic hold vaccine container with russian Sputnik V

PM Babiš To Visit Serbia To Discuss Sputnik V Vaccine

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is visiting Serbia today to get first-hand information on the successful vaccination process in Serbia, where more than 500,000 citizens have been vaccinated, many of those with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. Babiš and adviser Roman Prymula are said to be more open to Sputnik V than Health Minister Jan Blatný, who does not support the use of vaccines not approved by the EMA. Photo Credit: Freepik / Illustrative Photo.

Brno, Feb 10 (BD)  – The Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is visiting Serbia today, accompanied by an expert team of epidemiologists and doctors. The agenda includes a discussion of the fight against COVID-19 and the successful vaccination program in Serbia. Babiš will also visit mass vaccination centres in Belgrade. More than half a million citizens have already been vaccinated in Serbia, and one of the vaccines being used is the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, of which 2.4 billion doses have been delivered to 50 countries around the world, including Iran, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Argentina. The most commonly used vaccine in Serbia is the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine.

Czech Health Minister Jan Blatný has voiced his opposition to using vaccines that have not been approved by the European Medicines Agency. “As long as I am the Minister of Health, we will not be vaccinated in the Czech Republic with a substance that has not been approved by the EMA,” stressed Blatný. All EU countries are currently struggling with delayed deliveries of the EMA-approved vaccines. The Czech Ministry of Health said on February 9th that deliveries from Moderna will be one week late, while 91,000 doses are expected from Pfizer next week.

Babiš said this morning that the Czech Republic will not use Sputnik V until it receives EMA approval, but the Prime Minister’s recent visits to Hungary and Serbia, two European countries actively using the vaccine, indicate that it is under consideration. According to journalist Markéta Dobiášová of Seznam Zprávy, officials have been asked to determine whether Sputnik V can be deployed in the Czech Republic without the approval of European and Czech regulatory authorities. Previous Minister of Health Roman Prymula, now an adviser to the Prime Minister, previously admitted that he and Babiš were evaluating the possibilities of using Sputnik V: “It is really at the negotiation level so far. It is definitely not decided that we will buy the vaccine, but we want to act,” he said on February 1st.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic was the first European leader to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, on December 24th, 2020, in order to reassure skeptical Serbian citizens about the safety of vaccination. The Serbian government underlined the need for prompt access to vaccines. “Whether the vaccines come from China, the US or EU – we don’t care as long as they’re safe and we get them as soon as possible. For us, vaccination is not a geopolitical matter. It is a healthcare issue,” Brnabic told the BBC. The Serbian government’s close relationship with Russia and China helped secure a significant number of vaccines, exceeding the number of vaccines delivered to EU countries by EMA-approved companies such as AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech. Brnabic said that Serbia’s aim is to ‘de-politicize’ the vaccination process, adding that “I would be equally happy if we got a million vaccines from Pfizer.”

CORRECTION: The original version of this article stated that Sputnik V is the main vaccine in use in Serbia. The article has been updated to clarify that the Chinese Sinopharm is the most commonly used. We apologise for the inaccuracy.

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