Hungary purchases Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine
BUDAPEST (HUNGARY) – Hungary has struck a deal to buy 2 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, the first European Union country to take such a step, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told a briefing during talks in Moscow on Friday.
Hungary is the first EU member to break ranks and marks its special place for unilaterally approving the shot.
Szijjarto said during talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, “Under the terms of our agreement, we are buying an amount sufficient to inoculate 1 million people.”
“This represents 2 million doses in three tranches. An amount to inoculate 300,000 people in the first month, for half a million people in the second month and 200,000 people in the third.”
Szijjarto did not say when the first shipment of the Russian shot was expected to arrive in Hungary and it was not clear how much Budapest would spend for the 2 million vaccines in total.
The agreement comes a few days after Hungary’s drug regulator gave approval for use of Britain’s AstraZeneca and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines against the coronavirus.
The EU’s medicines regulator is yet to give approval for the Russian or AstraZeneca vaccine. Szijjarto said the Russian vaccines could permit Hungary to remove lockdown restrictions sooner.
Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Hungary cannot remove restrictions until a mass inoculation is carried out. He said the best approach was to give authorisation the use of several vaccines as competition would force manufacturers to accelerate shipments.
“We don’t need explanations, we need vaccines,” Orban told state radio.
Szijjarto has said discussions about gas shipments from Russia will also be carried during his talks in Moscow on Friday. Hungary has said before that it was ready to start discussions with Russia’s Gazprom based on a new long-term gas-supply deal.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is likely to decide on the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University on January 29.
Scientists have raised concern about the speed at which Moscow has launched its vaccine, giving the regulatory approval for the shot at home and start mass vaccinations before full trials to evaluated its safety and efficacy had got over.
Moscow has said Sputnik V is 92% effective against COVID-19 based on interim results but the full dataset for the trials has not yet been released.