Prague, Czech Republic – Hungary has pledged to donate 40,000 anti-COVID vaccine doses to the Czech Republic in the first half of May, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Facebook.
Austria and Slovenia have also promised to aid hard-hit Czech Republic and donate 30,000 and 10,000 vaccine doses to the Czech Republic, respectively.
The overall 80,000 additional doses Prague should receive from its allies comes after Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis failed to secure 70,000 vaccines in heated EU negotiations.
Supported by PM Babis and Slovenia’s Janez Janša, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz last week led a push to reform the EU’s pro-rata vaccine distribution strategy, which the three Central European leaders described as unfair. The other 24 EU member states rejected the proposal to keep the population-based distribution scheme, complemented by an additional pot to reserve more vaccine doses to the hardest-hit countries, including Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia, Estonia and Latvia.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis refused to support the agreement, losing out on the 70,000 jabs the country would have been entitled to.
“It is purely his responsibility and he has to explain to the citizens why we have lost 70,000 vaccines”, lashed out Interior Minister Jan Hamáček and chairman of the Social Democrats, a coalition partner.
Facing a backlash at home for his “poor negotiation skills” and for failing to secure direly-needed jabs, M. Babis triumphantly took to Twitter on Saturday to declare that, thanks to the support from Hungary, Austria and Slovenia, his government had now secured 10,000 more vaccine doses than it would have had through the EU.
The Czech Premier has also shown signs of being willing to authorize the purchase and use of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, which hasn’t been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Neighbouring Hungary and Slovakia were the first two EU member states to approve Russia’s vaccine ahead of an EMA approval.