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Prime Minister Andrej Babis named his fourth health minister since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on the Czech Republic, amid mounting pressure to seek vaccines from Russia and probably China.

President Milos Zeman swore in Petr Arenberger, the head of Prague’s University Hospital Vinohrady, to replace Jan Blatny.

Blatny began his new job in October, just as COVID-19 infections in the Czech Republic were on the rise.

According to the Our World in Data website, three peaks of the pandemic have killed more than 27,000 people, putting the nation of 10.7 million people at the top of the global rankings in deaths per capita.

Blatny was fired after Babis chastised him for allegedly refusing to endorse new COVID-19 drugs and attempting to reopen schools using research.

Blatny had also been a vocal opponent of Hungary’s decision to use Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine before European Union regulators approved it, placing him at odds with President Zeman.

IMAGE SOURCE: The Irish Times

Blatny had also been a vocal opponent of Hungary’s decision to use Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine before European Union regulators approved it, placing him at odds with President Zeman.

Zeman has advocated for the use of the Russian shot, as well as others established by China, and has called for Blatny’s dismissal.

“Each of us should strive to get as many vaccines as possible,” Zeman said as he swore in Arenberger. “Unfortunately your predecessor … [has] blocked this process.”

Blatny dismissed the criticism, claiming that he only allows the use of licensed vaccines because they are “safe, checked, and really work.”

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“And that’s the same with the drugs against COVID,” he said. “My decisions were always based on scientific data and analysis.”

Source: ALJAZEERA

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