“Our stance is that a sound test has to be conducted to determine if there are any reasons, based on the findings so far, for Croatia also to go in that direction. From what the experts are telling me, there are no such indications for the time being. Tomorrow, we will probably see a coordinated stance by EMA, which as far as I understand, will proceed cautiously, that is, continue testing the vaccine itself and continue with consultations with the company regarding any possible consequences of the vaccination,” Plenković said ahead of a joint meeting of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) Presidency and National Council.
He added that the director of Croatia’s HALMED drug regulator, Siniša Tomić, today participated in EMA meetings which discussed what to do next considering the emergence of several side effects that have been reported throughout Europe.
In reference to the procurement of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, Plenković said that Croatia would wait for it to be approved and that the EMA had launched the relevant procedure. In the meantime, we will obtain additional information and test the vaccine, he added.
Asked who made the decision on how many doses of a vaccine Croatia would order, Plenković said that the procurement of vaccines was launched in the summer before reports that AstraZeneca had had certain problems with clinical trials.
“The vaccine that at the time was way ahead in terms of testing and the fact that it could be finished and its approval sought was AstraZeneca’s and we, like the majority of other countries, immediately ordered the largest quantity of that vaccine. Then we ordered the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines. Croatia ordered a total of 8.7 million doses,” said Plenković, adding that no one could have known that problems would emerge in vaccine production when the initial orders were made.
Asked whether anyone would be held responsible for the poor estimate in procuring vaccines, he said that for the entire time the aim had been to protect citizens, which was why more doses had been ordered than Croatia needed.
“The problem has emerged because one company, from which we ordered the biggest quantity… now has a problem in delivering the vaccine to the entire European Union. If that problem didn’t exist, the rate of inoculation in Croatia would be very high,” he explained.
Asked why Croatia didn’t order the largest quantity of the Pfizer vaccine, which was the option many countries used, he said that only a few countries did that and that Croatia’s decision was based on an expert opinion at the time.
“Croatia has a population of four million people and can immunise a maximum 3.4 million, and how could it justify buying 20 million doses?” “We did everything that was logical and correct based on the information that was available at the time and as time is moving on, we are looking for other solutions, just like everyone else,” he said.
He added that it was necessary to find a corrective mechanism to redistribute the vaccines.
As far as continuing inoculation with the AstraZeneca vaccine in Croatia is concerned, Plenković said that the experts would decide on that. “As far as I understand, EMA’s stance is that when the risk and benefits are taken into account, at the moment it is better to be vaccinated,” said Plenković.
With regard to the European initiative for a vaccination certificate, Plenković said that the European Commission would release its proposal on Wednesday and that that would enable free movement and the tourism season.
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