On Friday, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš met with his counterpart Viktor Orbán in Hungary. Among other things, he said appreciated the advice Orbán gave him in the fight against coronavirus. Both prime ministers also agreed on the need for Visegrád Four (V4) countries’ cooperation on the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic. Babiš also suggested that he thinks about following the Hungarian path, and he would consider buying vaccines for Czechia without the European Union.
“The pandemic is in the next phase. We are no longer just talking about how to prevent infection but also how to save lives with vaccines. We cannot wait for Brussels, so we have started negotiations on vaccine supplies with Russia and China. We passed on all this valuable information to the Czech side,” commented PM Orbán on the meeting.
Babiš appreciated Hungary being willing to share information, say he regretted not asking for help before.
“I should have been here in November. The best vaccine is the safe one but at the same time the ones we have are immediately available. The vaccine is not about politics but the safety of citizens. Our task is to protect our citizens. Timing is key,” Babiš said.
“We’ve got a lot of information about how ‘antibody’ drugs work, and how epidemic teams work in Hungary. We were provided with excellent information based on which we can improve the fight against the pandemic,” he added.
Babiš also mentioned that Hungary supplied 150 lung ventilators to the Czech Republic last year. Furthermore, both prime ministers agreed that the issue of vaccines should not be politicized. Speed of delivery as well as a sufficient amount of vaccines is important.
“I spoke with Chancellor Angela Merkel about the Russian and Chinese vaccines, and now it depends on whether both countries apply for approval by the European Medicines Agency,” the Czech prime minister explained.
Both prime ministers also highlighted the cooperation of V4 countries, emphasizing that despite the economic downturn, these countries maintained low unemployment. Orbán has already mentioned that Hungary could start to lift coronavirus measures from March. However, it will depend on the opinions of experts.
In addition to vaccinations, the statesmen also talked about the Hungarian experience with the Russian vaccine Sputnik V and the drug Bamlanivimab, which the Czech Republic will also purchase.
“I have been given an overview of the medicines that Hungary is using. Bamlanivimab is one of them, we expect delivery of 500 pieces, and we plan to order more,” said Babiš.
The Czech Prime Minister and the coronavirus expert team flew to Budapest on Friday morning.
“The situation is not good as the number of people in the ICU is not declining. Efforts to reduce the number of infected are failing,” said Babiš about the situation in the Czech Republic before his flight.
Title image: Czech PM Andrej Babiš with the Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán (Andrej Babiš / Facebook)