Prime Minister Andrej Babiš fired Jan Blatný who was the Minister of Health for the last five months, causing questions as to whether Blatný was removed from the cabinet because of his reluctance to use Sputnik V.
Petr Arenberger, the director of the University Hospital in Královské Vinohrady, became the fourth Minister of Health since the beginning of the pandemic. President Miloš Zeman stated that Blatný’s removal from the office happened due to his negative attitude towards the Russian and Chinese COVID-19 vaccines.
“It is good to realize that anyone who does this is harmful to the Czech Republic and bears shared responsibility for the the people who are dying because of the lack of vaccines and the slow vaccination process,” Zeman explained. He has also asked Arenberger not to join the “political hysteria” and to work in the interest of the Czech citizens by suggesting:
“Unfortunately, your predecessor has blocked the process.”
Furthermore, Zeman mentioned that he has enquired Russian, Chinese, and Israeli officials for the supplies of their vaccines. Blatný, again, tried not to react negatively towards Zeman’s criticism.
“For myself, I have a clear conscience that I worked only based on my expertise and made decisions based on scientific data and analysis,” Blatný stated.
However, Babiš insisted that the ex-Minister’s dismissal had nothing to do with the vaccines, but rather with the issues related to communication.
“I emphasized that marketing, communication, and PR are also important,” Babiš added.
Despite being mostly focused on the already registered vaccines, Arenberger mentioned that the state is also potentially interested in clinical trials of Sputnik V in the Czech Republic. However, the government will have to wait for the European Medicines Agency’s approval.
“By law, the state cannot buy vaccines other than those it got from the European Commission,” Babiš explained. Arenberger agreed that the state is mainly interested in registered vaccines.
As for the PES system, Arenberger already stated that he wants to replace it, ironically saying:
“Something like that will be needed. But it doesn’t matter if it is called a cat or a hare.”
Arenberger also promised to build better communication channels with journalists and media outlets to ensure there is enough information available to the public about the COVID-19 situation in the country.
Featured image via vlada.cz