Hungary pushes Commission to publish all jab contracts

Hungary pushes the European Commission to make all vaccine agreements public. [Shutterstock/Florin Burlan/ANDREY-SHA74]

Hungary is asking the European Commission to publish all vaccine contracts jointly procured by the EU, as well as delivery schedules, pointing out that it has already made public its own vaccine contracts with China and Russia for the sake of “maintaining public confidence”.

The request was made by the country’s minister in charge of the prime minister’s office, Gergely Gulyás, who wrote to the Commission’s health and food safety boss, Stella Kyriakides on Friday (12 March).

The Commission is unable to publish without the consent of the companies. So far, it has published redacted versions of its contracts with CureVac, AstraZeneca and Sanofi, but European lawmakers have been calling for more transparency.

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Gulyás noted that Hungary has so far been able to give the jab to more than 1.2 million people — out of 9.6 million inhabitants — because of the Russian and Chinese vaccines it has purchased.

Hungary published its own contracts for two million Russian Sputnik V and five million Chinese Sinopharm jabs on Thursday (11 March).

The country paid €31.5 per dose for the Chinese vaccine and $9.95 per dose for the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine, both of which are two-shot.

In the contracts, Hungary’s National Public Health Centre commits to paying €150 million plus tax for the Sinopharm vaccine, well over the price of Pfizer/BioNTech or AstraZeneca vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency. Hungary also agreed to pay $20 million for 2 million doses of Sputnik V.

The Budapest government said it made the supply agreements public with the goal of “maintaining public confidence,” which according to Gulyás “is an essential condition to overcome the pandemic”.

“However, this information is not available for Hungarian citizens in the case of vaccines procured by the EU as these contracts were negotiated and signed by the European Commission with the pharmaceutical companies, so the rules on disclosure were regulated by the Commission in the contracts,” Gulyás wrote.

“The only instrument currently known to eradicate the pandemic is the vaccine. Therefore, in our opinion, the European and Hungarian public is entitled to be fully informed about the content of the contracts, especially about the delivery schedule” Gulyás said, asking the Commission “to make public all contracts and delivery schedules of the vaccine supply.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic/ Natasha Foote]

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