Chief hygienist and scientists back the Slovak medicines agency

General Prosecutor’s office has received a motion to investigate the controversy surrounding vaccines.

Ex-health minister Marek Krajčí (left) and ex-PM Igor Matovič (both OĽaNO) welcome the first Sputnik vaccine doses in Slovakia.Ex-health minister Marek Krajčí (left) and ex-PM Igor Matovič (both OĽaNO) welcome the first Sputnik vaccine doses in Slovakia. (Source: Korzár - Judita Čermáková)

Several politicians, scientists and high-ranking representatives have reacted to the words of Finance Minister Igor Matovič from this morning.

PM Eduard Heger said he has assigned Matovič and Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský to check the current availability of vaccines on the market including the Sputnik V vaccines.

He also assigned Matovič to negotiate with Hungarian partners in Budapest about the possibility of evaluating the Sputnik V vaccine there.

“In the interest of protecting the lives and the health of our citizens, PM Eduard Heger has a very clear interest in the monumental programme for mass vaccination, which is necessary to ensure collective immunity in our population. He is also aware of citizens' interest in vaccination with the Sputnik V vaccine,” the governmental office wrote in a statement, adding that the obligation of the state is to ensure the availability of vaccines of the required quality in the required amounts.

Finance Minister Matovič flew to Moscow for Sputnik negotiations Read more 

Regarding Friday's meeting with Hungarian partners, the office said that Matovič would discuss the possibility of the evaluation of the Sputnik vaccine in Hungary, to rule out any doubts over the transparency and professionalism of vaccine testing.

This has been confirmed by Hungarian Foreign Affairs Minister Péter Szijjártó who said that following a request from Slovakia, evaluation of the the Sputnik V vaccine would take place in Hungary on Slovakia's behalf, The Denník N daily informed.

The Governmental Office is highlighting the need to stop the pandemic and its negative consequences on the public finances of the Slovak Republic as soon as possible. It also stresses that Heger will ensure that only those vaccines that pass the standard approval process in a certified laboratory, or are authorized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will be authorized in Slovakia.

Krajčí requested it, SAV claims

Meanwhile, the Biomedical Centre of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (BMC SAV) protested against the claims of Matovič which he presented at the press conference on April 9, calling them false.

The centre wrote in a statement that the trials of the Sputnik V vaccines were conducted based on a written request from the former health minister Marek Krajčí on March 5, 2021. The centre concluded the contract with the national medicines agency, the ŠÚKL, five days later.

Sputnik V was checked by a lab after ex-minister Krajčí’s request Read more 

The centre also explained that eight of 14 examinations have been conducted at the Biotechnological laboratories of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV), which is registered in European database EudraGMP and certified to conduct the microbiological, chemical and biological testing of drugs.

The other six tests were conducted in the scientific labs of the Virology Institute of the SAV and the centre claims that the Health Ministry and the ŠÚKL were notified in advance.

In accordance with the contractual provisions, the test results were communicated exclusively by the ŠÚKL via the BMC SAV. The ŠÚKL has already informed the public that the results of the tests completed so far were in accordance with the normative documentation of the manufacturer.

“Therefore, our results could not damage the reputation of the manufacturer,” the SAV wrote. “The Biomedical Centre of the Slovak Academy of Sciences acted in good faith, with above-standard work commitment and remained professional and correct throughout.”

Motion for investigation

The non-parliamentary party Dobrá Voľba of former health minister Tomáš Drucker called on the General Prosecutor’s office and law enforcement bodies to seize samples of the Sputnik V vaccines that have been brought to Slovakia.

The party intends to submit a motion to investigate the financial and criminal liability of Matovič. They also called on Heger to remove Matovič from his position as finance minister.

The General Prosecutor’s office has received another motion to investigate the circumstances of the arrival and checks of Sputnik V in Slovakia. They did not specify who submitted the motion.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Juraj Šeliga (Za Ľudí) said that he expects that, while in Russia, Matovič will obtain the missing documents that would contribute to vaccines evaluation.

“We are not a banana republic that allows its citizens to be injected with something which is not tested by the ŠÚKL,” Šeliga wrote on Facebook. “The institute knows what it is doing, they are not enemies of the Sputnik V vaccine, they protect our lives even at the price of inappropriate and excessive criticism,” he added and expressed support for the ŠÚKL.

The chair of the parliamentary health committee Jana Bittó Cigániková (SaS) has also expressed her support for the ŠÚKL and the scientists.

“Our authorities only do their job, let’s praise them for it, not denigrate them,“ she told the press. Bittó Cigániková also added that if Slovakia has breached a contract, then it is a problem, but she sees it as more of a management failure rather than a failure of the scientists who have been assigned a task and have fulfilled it.

Chief hygienist stands on ŠÚKL’s side

Chief hygienist Ján Mikas also expressed support for Zuzana Baťová, chair of the ŠÚKL.

“It is an inadequate statement from the mouth of a high-ranking representative of the state,” Mikas said, as quoted by the Sme daily. “It is inadequate to insult people in this way. Despite its limited scope, the State Institute for Drug Control did its utmost to obtain as much information as possible about Sputnik V and to express itself responsibly.”

Hlas, the non-parliamentary party of former PM Peter Pellegrini which is most popular in the polls, wrote in a statement that Matovič is currently Slovakia's biggest conspirator.

“For several days now, he has been spreading fallacies, in which some mysterious "they" in the highest places of the state provoked his departure from the chair of prime minister and at the same time caused complications with the Sputnik vaccine,” Hlas wrote and called on PM Heger to stop this dangerous action being taken by his minister.

Scientists support the testing institutions

ŠÚKL and BMC SAV is supported by several scientists as well.

“I fully stand behind my colleagues, experts and scientists from these institutions,” Pavol Čekan, CEO of the MultiplexDX company, wrote on Facebook, stressing that the attacks on experts, scientists and independent institutions who focus on the safety of medicaments and vaccines needs to stop.

“This is really serious situation for the future of science and scientists in Slovakia,” he added.

Mathematician Richard Kollár, who is a member of the Veda Pomáha (Science Helps) initiative, also expressed his trust towards ŠÚKL and the SAV labs, claiming that they surely have done everything to assess the vaccine properly.

“I consider the statement of the current finance minister absolutely inappropriate, and I perceive his attacks on Slovak science and experts a personal attack on me,” he added.

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