Coronavirus update, April 15, 2021: Deputy PM heads to Moscow to negotiate Sputnik V supply

Hamáček to negotiate Sputnik V supply in Moscow; Czech Republic sees lowest workday number of new Covid cases since late November. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 15.04.2021 09:59:00 (updated on 15.04.2021) Reading time: 7 minutes

Hamáček to negotiate Sputnik V supply in Moscow

Czech Deputy Prime Minister and acting Foreign Minister Jan Hamáček is leaving for Moscow on Monday to negotiate about possible supplies of the Sputnik V anti-Covid vaccine to the Czech Republic after its approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), he tweeted. He will meet Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Maturov. Former Slovak parliament chairman Andrej Danko will be in the delegation led by Hamáček. "My task is to hand to the Czech Republic all the contacts that I used for Slovakia in the negotiations about Sputnik," Danko said. In Slovakia, the purchase of the Russian vaccine triggered a government crisis. First 200,000 Sputnik V doses were delivered to Slovakia six weeks ago, but the vaccine has not been used there yet. The Slovak State Drug Control Institute (SÚKL) said it could not declare whether the vaccine was safe and efficient because it did not get enough information on it from Russia.

Pfizer will deliver 50 million more doses to the EU by June

EU countries will receive 50 million additional doses of vaccine from Pfizer / BioNTech by the end of June that were originally scheduled for the autumn, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. Pfizer / BioNTech will deliver a total of 250 million doses to the EU in the second quarter, more than half of all approved vaccines available to Member States, she added. Despite the continuing problems vaccination is gaining momentum in the member states, according to von der Leyen. So far, 100 million people have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and 27 million people are fully vaccinated, or about 8 percent of adults in the union. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said on Twitter in English that it was “great news.” In a second tweet he said: "For the Czech Republic, this means more than a million additional doses in April, May and June!"

Czech Republic will seek AstraZeneca from Denmark

Czech Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček said the Czech Republic is ready to purchase the AstraZeneca vaccine from Denmark, which previously suspended and now definitively terminated its use over some cases of people diagnosed with blood clots following the vaccination. Deliveries of AstraZeneca vaccine ordered from the maker directly by the Czech Republic have fallen behind schedule.

Schools in Dečin area to open as of Monday

Elementary schools in the Dečin district in north Bohemia will open for the first five grades as of Monday as the epidemic situation is not worsening and no more cases of the Brazilian Covid variant have occurred, Ústí nad Labem Regional Governor Jan Schiller said. The schools in the area are to open a week later than in the rest of the country where selected grades of educational institutions reopened April 12. The regional public health office justified the delay due to a bad epidemic situation in the district as the local growth in Covid-19 cases was the highest in the region. Schiller said the measure is not necessary any more.  

Court deems former on-site Covid testing restriction unlawful

The Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) in Brno concluded that the mandatory corporate testing for Covid-19 ordered by the Health MInistry under the pandemic law was unlawful. The proposal was made by the Teva Czech Industries pharma firm trade unions and employee Dagmar Bilá. It is the second motion of this kind in a row. Last week, the NSS dismissed a similar proposal by an automotive employee. The second complaint argued against the obligation of employees to leave their workplace and inform their general practitioner and the relevant public health office if their test returned a positive result. Head of the court panel Petr Mikeš said that meanwhile, the contested measure was scrapped by the government on March 28 and replaced by a similar restriction. Therefore, the court cannot cancel it, but it can rule the previous measure was unlawful which is what the complainants want. The ruling has no effect on the existing corporate testing. Mikeš assumes the Health Ministry will adapt the new measure so that it meets the requirements.  

Indoor sports facilities lodge complaint against forced closure

Operators of indoor sports facilities, fitness centers, swimming pools, and saunas have lodged a complaint with the Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) against the Health Ministry's measure than bans their operation, Czech Fitness Chamber head Jana Havrdová told ČTK. The complainants argue the ministry has no authority and legal basis for the blanket ban. They do not call for a headlong relaxation of the anti-epidemic measures, but they have already proposed conditions of safe operation, Havrdová said, sharing the complaint. Sports facilities say the ministry cannot treat the blanket bans under the pandemic law the same way as under the state of emergency.

Liberec pharma firm develops Covid drug

A new experimental drug for Covid-19 was developed by the pharmaceutical company InStar Technologies from Liberec in North Bohemia, news server reported. If it passes further testing, it should help prevent serious cases of the disease. The experimental drug should soon be used in a clinical trial in the U.S. The company is also applying for a permit from the Czech State Institute for Drug Control (SÚKL), company representative Denisa Stránská said, adding that documentation was being prepared.

Seznamzpravy: Sputnik vaccine delivered for Russian Embassy staff

Sputnik V vaccine has arrived in the Czech Republic by diplomatic mail from Russia, according to news server The Russian Embassy has not disclosed the amount, but said it is intended for embassy staff and their families, and that vaccinations have already started. The Russian Embassy apparently asked the Czech Foreign Ministry in a letter for permission to transport the vaccine two weeks ago. Former Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček confirmed to that he was aware of the letter, but does not know the outcome. Officials who were not identified said that this could be a way to get the vaccine in the country before it is approved, as diplomatic mail can’t be controlled.

Charles University won’t examine Sputnik V

Scientists from Charles University will not examine the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, as demanded by President Miloš Zeman, university spokesman Václav Hájek said. Rector Tomáš Zima is of the view that it would be useless for the school’s experts to deal with the vaccine, Hajek said. The decision on the use of the vaccine must be given by the relevant bodies, which is the Health Ministry, the State Drug Control Institute (SÚKL) and the European Medical Agency (EMA), he added. Zeman, who advocates the Russian vaccine, addressed Zima over Sputnik V in March, asking him to let a commission of university experts examine the vaccine. Zeman's spokesman Jiří Ovčáček expressed regret at the decision.

Experts: Covid pandemic might have some positive effects

The coronavirus epidemic might have some positive effect on the society in a long-term horizon, Czech experts agreed in Tuesday's online debate held by the Neuron Foundation. Economist and Brno Mendel University rector Danuše Nerudová estimates a change in people's attitude to the environment and reduced congress tourism.

"Our society lost the false sense of security," Nerudová said.

She considers the pandemic a warning sign for civilization that should be more humble. There will be a change in urban settlement. People will probably move from big cities to the countryside as lockdown made them realist life is easier there, Nerudová said. Furthermore, the economic model the society has been using since the end of the World War II will change, too, as the pursuit of cheap work force is not the most fortunate strategy, she said. Epidemiologist Petr Smejkal considers it an opportunity for people to have more time to think about their health and lifestyle. Mathematician Jan Kulveit hailed the development of digital civil service.

Lowest workday number of new Covid cases since late November

There were 3,697 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, the lowest workday figure since the end of last November and 3,355 fewer than a week ago. The reproduction number R dropped to 0.92, going below one again after two days, the Health Ministry's data show this morning. There are currently 4,888 people in hospitals with Covid, of whom 1,076 require intensive care. Last Wednesday, 6,737 people were hospitalized and 1,416 of them were in serious condition. Healthcare workers on Wednesday administered 60,430 vaccine doses, the third-highest daily number since late December when Covid vaccination started. So far, the record high was last Thursday when 67,508 doses were applied. The 60,000-dose threshold was exceeded on Monday, too, when 60,305 vaccine doses were applied.

Latest Covid-19 data from the Czech Ministry of Health (April 15, 2021)

  • New cases 3,697
  • Deaths 28,229
  • Currently hospitalized 4,888
  • PCR tests performed 6,507,078
  • Antigen tests performed 8,595,028
  • Reported vaccinations 2,278,965
  • PES index 62
  • R number 0.92
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