Opposition wants minister to resign over vaccination death, he sees no reason to do so

Slovenija, Ljubljana, 10.02.2021, 10. februar 2021 DZ RS,  vložen predlog, konstruktivna nezaupnica vladi, predsednik DeSUS Karel Erjavec, kandidat za predsednika vlade, parlament, poslanci, opozicija, koalicija, preštevanje, glasovi, politične igre, politika, KUL Foto: Žiga Živulovič jr./BOBO

Ljubljana – Four opposition parties called on Health Minister Janez Poklukar to resign over the vaccination death of a young woman after the newspaper Dnevnik reported that Poklukar and his team were the authors of the decree granting a Covid pass as soon as a person receives the Johnson & Johnson jab. The minister sees no reason to step down.

The opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and the Left said today that the report confirmed that Poklukar had acted against the recommendations of experts.

“The minister carries objective responsibility and should step down. We urge him to resign immediately,” said Nataša Sukič from the Left. She was also critical of the government’s handling of the epidemic in general.

LMŠ head Marjan Šarec said that such actions were nothing new in this government, which was bypassing all regular procedures, laws and the constitution. “This is just another in a series of actions of this government, which however has unfortunately also caused a tragic death,” he said.

Šarec hinted that if Poklukar did not resign himself, he could soon face an ouster motion.

“If this is how it is done, than the minister is either somebody’s puppet or he did this consciously. Whichever it is, it’s bad,” he said.

SD MP Dejan Židan said the minister had proposed a harmful and dangerous decision – the use of the Janssen vaccine – which was known to be less effective and whose use some European countries have already suspended.

Poklukar has done a serious professional mistake and has misled citizens, as no vaccine provides protection immediately after the first shot.

“Today we know this was not proposed by experts but by the minister and his team, so I expect the minister to step down,” he said, adding that the government should also immediately adopt a damages scheme for all those who had serious side effects after a Covid-19 vaccine.

Alenka Bratušek from the SAB said that the government had failed at managing the epidemic, and was making decisions without expert basis, so the whole cabinet not just Poklukar should step down.

Poklukar told the press today that as minister he was acting to the best of his abilities and belief, and that this was how he had decided on the Covid pass after Janssen vaccination, so he saw no reason to think about resigning. He also said that as a human and doctor, he regretted every death.

Slovenia suspended the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the end of September after a 20-year-old girl died within a fortnight after receiving the single-shot Janssen vaccine.

Previously, the vaccine had been available to anyone over the age of 18 in Slovenia, with the exception of pregnant women, and its popularity surged after the government decided on 27 August that those vaccinated with it qualify for the Covid pass the next day after receiving the shot. For all the other vaccines, the Covid pass took effect after the second dose.

The national advisory committee on immunisation said it had told the government immediately that this decision was not in line with scientific findings, which suggest the vaccine provides protection seven or 14 days after vaccination. The advisory committee and the National Institute of Public Health once again asked the government to change this rule last week.

The Covid-19 task force at the Health Ministry has, however, never been asked for opinion about the changes, said the group’s head Mateja Logar today. “We didn’t expect the changes,” she added.

The task force was also not involved in the drawing up of the changes. “The main task of the group is to propose certain measures to the government. We still participate in this. But what of the things we propose is accepted is up to the decision-makers not the group,” Logar said.

She added that it had been stressed all along that the granting of the Covid pass was an administrative matter. “It’s for the QR code to be issued, but those vaccinated with the Janssen vaccine must be aware that protection is not provided in the first 14 days.”

With other vaccines, partial protection is provided after the first jab, so a person is fully protected within a few days after the second jab, she said.