- Published: 16.02.2021.
Beroš: Croatia agrees cooperation with Russia on vaccine procurement
Croatia has agreed cooperation with Russia on the procurement of its Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19, Health Minister Vili Beroš said in an interview with commercial broadcaster Nova TV on Tuesday evening.
Beroš said that there was growing evidence that the Russian vaccine was effective, but that more evidence was needed to prove that it was safe. He expressed reservations about Hungary's approach, adding that Hungary had resorted to temporary use of the Sputnik V vaccine even though it was not approved by the European Union and that there was a possibility of side effects developing.
"It would be optimal if the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the vaccine because it has very high criteria. The Russian ambassador has told me that they are expecting EMA's approval possibly in early April and that he will keep me informed," Beroš said, adding that Russia was ready for cooperation.
"Imagine if we imported a vaccine and certain side effects and transgenerational problems were reported," he warned and said that the Croatian Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices (HALMED) could, in cooperation with EMA, make an assessment of the vaccine in two to three days, and if everything was all right, the Russian vaccine could be delivered to Croatia very quickly.
Beroš said that Croatia was expecting larger quantities of vaccine from other sources and that the vaccination of citizens, which is running behind schedule, would be speeded up.
Russian Embassy is in touch with Croatian authorities
The Russian Embassy in Croatia is in touch with the authorities in Zagreb regarding the procurement of the Sputnik V vaccine, Ambassador Andrey Nesterenko told RIA Novosti news agency on Tuesday.
The Embassy said earlier that Croatian citizens were calling them every day to ask about the procurement of the Russian vaccine.
"We are in contact with the Croatian authorities, but understandably we cannot reveal details given the sensitivity of the matter," Nesterenko said. He added that each country had to decide whether it wanted to buy the Russian-made vaccine or not.
Debts to drug wholesalers
Speaking of debts to drug wholesalers, Beroš said that everything would be done to prevent the blockade of hospitals and that a solution to this problem would be found.
Beroš said that one of the main causes of the debts was an insufficient rate of public allocation for the healthcare system. He said that in Croatia the allocation for the health budget was €861 per capita, which is 8.6% GDP, while the EU average was €3,100. "We will have to increase the allocation for healthcare in the future," he said.
The amount of money that hospitals receive per month is too low and has now been increased. We spend between 23 and 27 billion kuna on healthcare annually, which includes salaries. Salaries have gone up 24% over the last few years, 12% last year alone, and the hospitals were left without money for drug wholesalers so that they could pay out salaries, the minister said.