The Czech president said Sunday he had asked Israel for advice on coronavirus vaccinations as his EU country suffered one of the world’s fastest infection rates.
His appeal came as thousands spilled into central Prague to protest against an ongoing vaccination campaign and tight government anti-virus restrictions.
Speaking to the Blesk tabloid, President Milos Zeman said he had recently asked his Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin “for help with organizing the vaccination campaign because Israel is absolutely perfect at that”.
Israel has already given a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to more than 1.5 million people, a pace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed is the world’s fastest.
Netanyahu has also said all Israelis over the age of 16 could get the vaccine by March.
“I hope that Israeli experts will show up here and that they will help us as the experienced people they are,” said Zeman, who has been fostering close ties with Israel for a long time.
On Sunday, 3,000 protesters in Prague waved Czech flags and banners saying “We’re not sheep,” and “No to vaccination” at the rally where mandatory face masks were a rare sight and social distancing rules were largely ignored.
The protesters argue that government restrictions have failed to stem infections but are still finishing off many businesses.
“The chaotic measures taken by this government don’t work and they never will,” Jiri Janecek, manager at the struggling small brewery Maly Janek southwest of Prague, told the crowd.
The death toll related to COVID-19 has risen to 13,272 as of Sunday. The total number of infections since the pandemic started has reached 835,454, including 8,405 and 4,283 new cases on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
The total number of identified infections has risen by 14,780 to 809,761, and there were 144,987 active cases.