Russia's Sputnik V vaccine splits Slovakia ruling coalition

Russia's Sputnik V vaccine splits Slovakia ruling coalition

Slovakia was thrown into a political crisis over a secret deal to acquire Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine orchestrated by the country’s prime minister despite disagreement among his coalition partners.

Prime Minister Igor Matovic defended the move, saying it was made in the public interest amid a surge of infections in one of the hardest hit European Union countries. Matovic said it wasn't the point where the vaccine is from but that "it saves lives."

The move was made possible after approval from Health Minister Marek Krajci, who represents Matovic’s Ordinary People movement in his four-party coalition. Matovic’s coalition partners weren't impressed.

President Zuzana Caputova said she was in favor of using "all available and safe vaccines" to protect people’s lives, but that Sputnik V wasn't one of them because "there’s no responsible authority to guarantee its safety." Caputova spoke after meeting the head of Slovakia’s drug agency, Zuzana Batova, who said to use an unregistered vaccine is "highly risky."

But with Western vaccines rolling out slowly, Matovic, the prime minister, argued his country “is not in a position to rely only on European solutions.”

The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Slovakia has risen over the past two weeks from 1.78 deaths per 100,000 people on Feb. 15 to 1.81 deaths on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. So far, 7,388 people died of COVID-19 in the nation of 5.4 million. A record 4,042 coronavirus patients were hospitalized Monday.

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