This is your overview of news from Slovakia on Thursday, March 17, 2021. This digest is a free-of-charge service for our readers. If you want to support us, become a subscriber and gain access to more detailed news and interesting feature stories from Slovakia. Thank you.
Is the Slovak plan for recovery good? Some see a wasted opportunity
Finance Minister Eduard Heger (OĽaNO) has submitted Slovakia's draft Recovery and Resilience Plan for inter-departmental review. The country needs to have the final plan ready to send to Brussels by the end of April 2021.
The funds are meant to help member states address the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, whilst ensuring their economies undertake green and digital transitions, becoming more sustainable and resilient.
The recovery plan is, to some extent, based on the economic section of the Matovič government's manifesto, with its commitment to increasing living standards for people in Slovakia from the current 74 percent to 92 percent of the EU average by 2030.
The opposition party, Smer, which was the strongest governing party in the country for most of the 14 years between 2006 and last year, labelled the document a plan of wasted opportunities when the current government took over.
AstraZeneca safe, Sputnik rollout date in Slovakia still unclear
One the day after the virtual waiting room for vaccinations was launched, 126,000 people have registered for their jab. Some have already received their invitation for vaccination, acting Health Minister Eduard Heger said on March 18.
His deputy Jana Ježíková said that it is not possible to choose which vaccine you are given. People older than 70 will receive the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, while people older than 60 years will get the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The ministry also responded to the criticism that it faced after the Hospodárske Noviny daily reported earlier this week that Slovakia had decided not to order most of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines that were available for the country within the allocation. The ministry insists a large batch can still be purchased and there will be enough jabs for everyone.
Vaccination centres in eastern Slovakia reported feeling the effect of an alarming report aired by the public-service broadcaster RTVS. The reporters linked the death of a 38-year-old teacher with the AstraZeneca jab that she received a few weeks before she died. The Health Care Surveillance Authority confirmed on March 18 that no connection between the vaccination and death has been found following an investigation based on the autopsy results.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced on Thursday that the Astra Zeneca vaccine was safe and effective, while they will continue investigating the possible links between the vaccine and rare blood clots.
Meanwhile, the head of the Slovak medicines agency Zuzana Baťová reiterated in an interview with the Sme daily, published in the Slovak Spectator today, that Astra Zeneca was safe and she would not hesitate to get the jab herself. Her agency is still examining the batches of Sputnik V vaccines that have been brought to Slovakia and Baťová said in the interview that they have not been given the necessary documents from the Russian producer of the vaccine.
It is not clear when or how Sputnik V will be added to Slovakia’s vaccination programme. So far, Slovakia is only rolling out vaccines that have been registered by the European Medicines Agency - i.e. Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca.
The latest registered vaccine from Johnson&Johnson is expected to arrive in Slovakia in the second quarter of 2021. Slovakia has contracted 1.4 million vaccines from this producer, but it is not clear how many doses of the single dose vaccine will arrive in the first batch.
More vaccination news
- The first large-scale vaccination centre will be open in Trenčín this weekend at the Expo Center. People aged between 60 and 70 years who registered via the virtual waiting room will be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Interview for today:
Slovaks have no idea what alcohol does to their bodies. Ordinary people do not know that alcohol in higher doses damages every single cell in the body, whether it is the brain, lungs, liver or heart. If they knew that, drinking would be much more cultured and occasional. I am convinced of that.Read more
Photo of the day
Doctors and medical staff in Nitra hospitals received 2,500 cream puffs as thanks for the jobs they are doing from students of the food-processing high school in Nitra.
- President Zuzana Čaputová has removed Vladimír Pčolinský as head of the Slovak Information Service. Pčolinský faces corruption charges.
- MPs approved the discharge of cannabidiol from the list of psychotropic substances, as proposed by the Health Ministry, saying that this substance is not listed in UN agreements and Slovakia is the only state of the EU that considers it psychotropic.
- Former Labour Minister Milan Krajniak (Sme Rodina) has returned to parliament. His replacement Jozef Hlinka has left. On March 17, President Zuzana Čaputová accepted Krajniak's resignation as minister.
- The investigator definitely halted the criminal prosecution in the case of the death of Viola Macáková.
- The Financial Administration took steps against a fraudster over Chinese textiles. The criminal Office of the Financial Administration arrested four members of an organised group including one member of the financial administration in the Prešov Region. The damage is estimated at almost €51 million and the accused faces 10 to 20 years behind bars.
- IT company Aliter Technologies has concluded a contract for the supply of systems for the support and operation of infrastructure for the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA) worth €30 million with the option of a possible extension.
- The pandemic slowed down the process of fusions and acquisitions in Slovakia last year, reads the report by the company Mazars and Mergermarket. They noted 12 contracts in Slovakia which is a y-o-y drop by 43 percent.
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