The purchase of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine promoted by President Zeman is now unlikely to go ahead, due to the diplomatic crisis with Russia that erupted this weekend. However, a planned delivery of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to the EU has been brought forward, and the Czech government is in talks to procure extra doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Denmark.Photo Credit: Freepik / Illustrative Photo.
Czech Rep., Apr 19 (BD) – The purchase of the Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine has been a cause of political strife in the Czech Republic in recent weeks and months. The idea has been pushed heavily by President Zeman, who pressured Prime Minister Andrej Babiš into replacing two ministers who opposed the plan. However, after this weekend saw a diplomatic crisis erupt between the Czech Republic and Russia, this now seems unlikely to go forward.
However, positive developments with the supply of other vaccines should hopefully ease the situation. Last week, the European Commission announced that a delivery of 50 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, originally planned for Autumn, is to be moved forward. This should mean that the Czech Republic receives 1.2 million more doses before the end of June than previously thought. Today it was confirmed that the EU will purchase a further 100 million doses over 2021, bringing the total for the year to 600 million.
“The additional 100 million doses … will further help to support the acceleration of the vaccination programme throughout the EU,” said Sean Marett, Chief Commercial Officer of BioNTech. “We now intend to deliver a total of 600 million doses to the EU this year, which covers two thirds of the population and represents the largest cumulative supply agreement [for our vaccine] that we have agreed to date globally.”
The Czech Republic is also attempting to buy 2.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Denmark. The Danish government decided to withdraw the vaccine from its vaccination strategy out of concern over its potential link to blood clots, though regulatory agencies stress that any risk associated with the vaccine is extremely small compared to the danger of the virus itself. Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček wrote on Twitter last week: “I have instructed the Ambassador of the Czech Republic in Copenhagen to contact the Danish authorities immediately to announce the Czech Republic’s interest in purchasing all AstraZeneca vaccines from Denmark.”
The rate of vaccination has now risen to around 70,000 a day, with vaccination to be opened to the over-60s group on Friday. Currently, 17.2% of adults in the Czech Republic have received their first dose, and 9.3% have had both doses and are fully vaccinated. This compares to a Europe-wide rate of 20.4% and 7.8% respectively. Health Minister Petr Arenberger said on Friday that at least 60-65% of the adult population should be vaccinated by the end of June.