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Slovak government divided on use of Russian Sputnik vaccine


Bratislava, Slovakia – The Slovak government is divided on whether or not to authorize the use of Russia’s anti-COVID Sputnik vaccine before the EU’s approval.

Last Thursday, the cabinet of Prime Minister Igor Matovic vetoed plans to authorize the purchase and administration of the Sputnik vaccine, which still hasn’t been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The purchase of the Russian-made jab was supported by PM Matovic and his Health Minister Marek Krajci, but faced the opposition of the junior coalition party For the People (Za Ludi), chaired by Veronika Remisova.

“Wherever in the world a vaccine is produced, Slovakia can use it, after its registration with the European Medicines Agency,” Remisova said.

Matovic criticized the veto and further urged Health Minister Marek Krajci to give the green-light to the vaccine, arguing that a growing number of Slovaks were ready to get the jab and taking a swing at the EU’s slow procurement and rollout strategy.

The Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines are currently being rolled out in Slovakia which, despite successive mass-testing campaigns and strict measures in place to contain the virus, has one of the worst COVID death tolls per capita in the world.

After saying for weeks that the Sputnik V vaccine could be used in Slovakia once it was approved by the EMA, Prime Minister Igor Matovic changed his rhetoric and personally negotiated with Russia for the delivery of up to 2 million doses by the end of June.

“I am in favour. It is a great vaccine with great efficiency,” the Slovak Premier argued last week, noting that neighbouring Hungary was for now the only EU country to have authorized the vaccine without EMA approval.

After pushing for the use of the Russian jab and follow the “Hungarian way“, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the country would wait for the EU’s green light.