In EU first, China’s Sinopharm coronavirus vaccines arrive in Hungary
- The vaccines, enough to protect 275,000 people against Covid-19, were flown in aboard a Hungarian government plane from Beijing
- The government announced late last month that it had ordered a total of 5 million Sinopharm doses
“This is an important day for Hungary,” Tamas Menczer, secretary of state for foreign affairs in Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s office, said at the airport. “We are trying to save lives and maintain the economy.”
Orban’s government announced late last month that it had ordered a total of 5 million Sinopharm doses.
Hungary’s pharmaceutical authority has approved the vaccine, but it cannot be administered until it receives the green light from the National Centre for Public Health (NNK), which has said it still needs to conduct tests.
Orban said last Friday that if Hungary can also start using the Sinopharm vaccine “in the near future, more than 2.5 million people can be inoculated by Easter”.
The prime minister has repeatedly criticised Brussels’ authorisation and procurement of vaccines as too slow – a criticism he reiterated on Friday.
“Each day we spend waiting around for Brussels, we would lose 100 Hungarian lives,” Orban said.
“Why should we think that European experts are smarter than us?” he asked, adding that he trusts Hungarian specialists more than those in Brussels.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is under pressure to approve new coronavirus vaccines as quickly as possible, as the EU’s 27 member states grapple with delivery delays and shortages in supplies for the top three vaccines authorised in the EU – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-Oxford.
Meanwhile Hungary’s neighbour, non-EU member Serbia, is also using China’s and Russia’s vaccines and has raced ahead of the EU in the pace of its vaccination programme.