Hungary Approves China Vaccine As Rift With Brussels Grows
Discontent with the AstraZeneca vaccine has caused Hungary’s drug regulator to approve a COVID-19 vaccine from China’s Sinopharm for emergency use, according to Reuters.
On Friday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio the purchase of Sinopharm’s vaccine could be completed imminently.
Orban has been frustrated by Brussels’ leadership surrounding the vaccine rollout. He said last week, he signed a deal with Sinopharm.
“We have several million Chinese vaccines we could get tomorrow morning or in a few days,” Orban said last week.
More details are emerging of just how large the purchase will be. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said upwards of five million COVID-19 vaccines from Sinopharm are ready to be purchased.
Orban was quoted by Reuters this week as saying he only trusts the Chinese vaccine.
The National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition (OGYÉI), otherwise known as the Hungarian drug regulator, granted Sinopharm’s vaccine permission for emergency use late this week.
“Today the OGYEI (Hungarian drug regulator) has issued the permission to use the Sinopharm vaccine as well, so after Pfizer, Moderna, Astra Zeneca and the Russian Sputnik vaccine, we can also count on the Sinopharm shot,” surgeon general Cecilia Muller told a briefing.
Muller said the Sinopharm vaccine would help the country combat the virus pandemic among an arsenal of vaccines from other companies.
Hungary’s move comes as difficulties in shipping and storing the AstraZeneca-Oxford jab have caused a much slower roll out across Europe than previously anticipated. Europe expected 100MM doses of the vaccine to be ready during the first quarter of the year, but the big-pharma is only expected to deliver half of that.
The move also reflects the Hungarian government’s mistrust of Brussels, as they could move closer to China and perhaps even Russia. The geopolitics of vaccine distribution could push Hungary further away from the EU.
This is not the first time the Hungarian government has grown skeptical of Brussels. Over the years, Hungarian politicians have been displeased with the EU’s migration and economic policies.
Although the Russian Sputnik V vaccine had been approved, Muller said Sputnik V would undergo more testing and that may concluded as early as next week.