Health Minister Vili Beros said on Wednesday that during his talks with a Russian delegation he had called for expediting the delivery of documentation on the Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V so that Croatia's drug regulator Halmed can evaluate the vaccine's safety and efficiency.
“The meeting yesterday with the Russian ambassador does not indicate that we are abandoning the European Commission’s common procurement. It is a sign that we are looking for complementary methods that will be in line with the European Commision’s and Croatian regulations,” Beros told reporters.
He said that it was possible to obtain the vaccine without the approval of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and that the analysis by Halmed would take some time, but that he is “talking about days and weeks, not months.”
“Yesterday’s meeting was held at the proposal of the Russian ambassador, it was pleasant, constructive and friendly and focused on possibilities of obtaining the vaccine,” Beros said.
He noted that the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry has sent a note to the Russian Embassy specifying the 11 documents Halmed needed in order to be able to evaluate the safety of the vaccine.
“I thank our Russian friends for their efforts to help us in the fight against the pandemic because vaccination, along with restrictions, is the main weapon in preventing the spread of the infection,” Beros said.
“I believe it is a legitimate government effort to ensure for citizens everything that science can offer, but the main criterion must be safety, efficacy and quality,” he stressed.
As for the debt to drug wholesalers, which have limited drug deliveries to hospitals because of their debts, Beros said that it was a problem that had “persisted for decades” and that it should be dealt with through a reform of the health system as well as talks with drug wholesalers.
He said the government would do its best to secure a normal supply of drugs for citizens and that it would hold talks with drug wholesalers.
“The Croatian health system is financially unsustainable and the crisis year of 2020 only emphasized the negative financial effects due to an increase in health spending as well as the cost of procuring the Covid-19 vaccine, which amounted to more than 2 billion kuna (€264 million) last year,” said Beros.
(€1 = 7.57 kuna)