Hungary lends 300,000 AstraZeneca jab doses to Slovenia

Ljubljana – Slovenia has received 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19 on loan from Hungary in what Prime Minister Janez Janša says will allow Slovenia to stop the epidemic and enjoy a relaxed summer.

“From today, there are no more waiting lines, everyone who wants to move around freely and take care of their and other people’s health can get vaccinated,” Janša said at the handover ceremony on Wednesday.

Health Minister Janez Poklukar said Slovenia would return vaccines to Hungary expectedly in the autumn or by the end of the year.

Both him and Janša thanked Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, who was present at the ceremony, for his country’s help.

“With this loan Slovenia will stop the epidemic by the summer and we can count on a relaxed summer,” Janša said.

“We will shortly issue the European certificate that will allow those vaccinated, recovered or tested free movement across Europe,” Janša added.

However, he appealed to citizens to continue to exert caution over the next few weeks as coronavirus infections in Slovenia are still above the European average.

Poklukar said that every vaccine dose was valuable at the moment, stressing that “solidarity is the main weapon during the epidemic”.

Solidarity was also emphasized by Milan Krek, the head of the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), who noted that solidarity was part of the reason why Slovenia joined the EU.

Like Slovenian officials, Szijjarto said that vaccination was a solution, as the pandemic was taking its toll on the economy and and all countries.

He criticised the EU vaccine purchase and distribution policy, noting the success countries such as the US, UK and Israel had in vaccinating their populations.

“Hungary has been successful in the fight against the pandemic and when it comes to vaccination we’re on top in Europe,” he said, adding that this was because they did not see vaccination as a political or geopolitical issue.

Szijjarto also noted the importance of neighbours helping each other. “If our neighbours are successful in the fight against the pandemic, we are successful as well.”

Hungary was able to lend vaccines to Slovenia because is has enough to vaccinate everyone who applied to get inoculated, he said.

Slovenia and Hungary recognise each other’s vaccination certificates and Szijjarto invited all vaccinated Slovenians to visit Hungary.

Slovenia is surrounded by four friendly countries, said Janša, who also thanked Hungary for donating personal protective equipment to Slovenian hospitals last year.

NIJZ data show that 668,479 people in Slovenia have received their first dose of a vaccine against Covid-19 and 418,613 have been fully vaccinated, which represents 31.8% and 19.9% of the population, respectively.