Hungary and Russia have agreed that after a visit by Hungarian doctors next week to see the manufacturing process for its Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19, Russia will ship some of the vaccines to Budapest, Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said on Friday. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said talks were also underway on how the Russian vaccine could be potentially produced in Hungary.
A review of the Russian vaccine trial in the Lancet found that the results of the Russian vaccine were “encouraging” but needed more work.
In September, the vaccine had mostly been trialled on healthy young soldiers. The editor-in-chief of the Lancet told CNN that the results of the study in September were encouraging but that it was premature for the vaccine to be in public use.
Hungary’s Szijjarto says the country is also in negotiations with three Chinese vaccine makers, and purchased 2.8 million doses of a Chinese antiviral medication.
The central European country has also reserved 12 million doses of vaccine from manufacturers in Europe and the United States, including British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, Belgium-based Janssen and the joint US-German vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech.
For months, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has repeatedly been saying that only a vaccine could provide a solution to the pandemic. On Thursday, a sample of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine arrived in Hungary and scientists have already begun examining it.
Meanwhile, many started to wonder why Hungary is the first European country to receive the Russian vaccine. Some critics think this is clearly a political message, while Europe is waiting for the American vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Orbán has many times mentioned that Hungarian researchers have joined the EU vaccine development program, and said that it is possible that by spring two or three types of vaccines will be available in Hungary as the government is in talks with China, Russia, and Israel on buying vaccines.
“This should not be made into a political issue,” the Prime minister said, adding that “vaccinations will be voluntary and people can decide which vaccine “to trust.” Hungary’s plans to import and possibly use Russia’s touted Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine raises safety concerns and could damage trust in potential vaccines, the European Commission said on Thursday, according to Reuters’ report.
“The question arises whether a member state would want to administer a vaccine to its citizens that has not been reviewed by [European Medicines Agency] EMA,” a spokesman for the Commission emphasized.
Under EU rules, Sputnik V must be authorized by the European Medicines Agency before it can be marketed in any state of the 27-nation bloc, according to EMA.
But a legal loophole might allow the Orbán government the temporary import and distribution of unauthorized vaccines for emergency use in the EU.
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