President Miloš Zeman wants Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) to remove the Minister of Health Jan Blatný (ANO) and the director of the State Institute for Drug Control (SÚKL) Irena Storová over their positions on Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.
As Parlamentní listy reports, Zeman said the two officials’ rejection of the Russian vaccine meant they were responsible for deaths in the Czech Republic.
Zeman pointed out the interest of Italy and Slovakia in the Russian vaccine. “This leads to the conclusion that if millions of people are vaccinated with the Russian or Chinese vaccine, then Mr. Blatný Ms. Storová and are to blame for the fact that our people will continue to die unnecessarily.”
Zeman also said on Wednesday that the Czech Republic had received an offer to participate in the production of Sputnik, which would be produced in one of the German federal states, in cooperation with Germany and Russia.
“In the Czech Republic, the Prime Minister is the only one who can dismiss ministers. The opinion of the President is relevant in this discussion, but any changes in the cabinet are proposed by the Prime Minister,” said the Minister of the Interior Jan Hamáček (CSSD).
Scientists said the Russian vaccine was almost 92% effective, based on late-stage trial results published in The Lancet medical journal last month.
“Sputnik V is a good vaccine, which looks like it will be approved in the EU at some point. The Russian researchers are very experienced in vaccines,” said Thomas Mertens, head of STIKO, Germany’s expert panel on vaccine use, told daily Rheinische Post on Wednesday.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has not yet approved Sputnik V, but has begun reviewing the shot for possible approval.
Sputnik V could be manufactured for the first time in Europe outside Russia after a deal to produce it in Italy was signed by the Moscow-based RDIF sovereign wealth fund and Swiss-based pharmaceutical company Adienne.