Hungary could start using Russian jab next week, Orbán says

Hungary U-turns on COVID-19 passport vaccine type disclosure. [Shutterstock/BERMIX STUDIO]

Hungary may become the first EU country to start vaccinating its citizens with the Russian vaccine, as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in his weekly radio interview on Friday (5 February) it could do so as early as next week, adding that a Chinese vaccine was also due soon.

“The Russian vaccines are arriving and we will start vaccinating with them soon, perhaps already next week we will vaccinate with the Russian vaccine as well,” he said on Friday (5 February).

“The Chinese vaccine is also arriving, but there are still control tests being carried out by our authorities. As they progress, we can deploy the Chinese vaccine as well,” he added.

The Hungarian authority recently granted limited marketing authorisation to both the Russian Sputnik V and Chinese Sinopharm jabs in record time.

However, the Hungarian Medical Chamber chamber said on Tuesday it cannot “in good conscience” recommend the use of the Russian and Chinese jabs without the proper documentation being first made public.

Hungarian doctors can’t recommend Russian, Chinese jabs

Without making public the documents related to the authorisation of the Russian Sputnik-V and Chinese Sinopharm vaccines  – especially the summary of product characteristics – the leadership of the Hungarian Medical Chamber “cannot recommend the use of these products to …

The Hungarian National Institute of Pharmacy and Food and Health (OGYÉI) replied on Thursday that it will make the summary of product characteristics public soon.

“Of course, even in such circumstances [of increased workload of OGYÉI], the documents will be made public immediately, before the mass vaccinations begin with the two vaccines, long before medical colleagues need it,” said the director of the Institute, Mátyás Szentiványi.

Meanwhile, Orbán told radio listeners that the “situation has stopped improving” if we are looking at the data from the last few days. 

He said Hungary will reach one million people who have either been vaccinated at least once or have overcome the disease in the past six months by the beginning of March.

So far, Hungary has vaccinated 264,530 citizens with the first round of the jab.

Orbán complained that the European joint procurement of the vaccines coordinated by Brussels “is moving slowly”. 

According to him, “what was important for Brussels bureaucrats is to get vaccines as cheaply as possible”, which he did find understandable, in case the Commission were to be scrutinised “whether they were prudent enough in their financial deals on purchasing the vaccine.”

However, Hungary would have preferred to have more vaccines faster at a higher cost rather than fewer and cheaper vaccines coming slowly, Orbán added.

“This may not be as obvious in Brussels as it is here in Budapest in this studio,” he said.

Orbán also blasted the Hungarian opposition for criticising the government’s handling of the crisis.

“I understand the left, they are in opposition, it is a logical idea that if the government works badly, the crisis management does not succeed, the economy does not work, health care collapses, or many people die, even those we could have cured, this is negative for the government,” he said.

However, he said such criticism is “unacceptable at a time of a pandemic” because “health and people’s lives should not be seen as a political issue”.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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