Covid-19: Hungary looks east for coronavirus vaccines

BUDAPEST, Nov 28 (NNN-AGENCIES) — An Aeroflot delivery of Russia’s
Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to EU member Hungary last week has sparked new criticism at home and abroad of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s go-it-alone policies.

“We are the first European country to receive such a sample,” said Foreign
Minister Peter Szijjarto in a video showing the plane touching down at
Budapest airport.

An initial 10 doses were handed over for local testing, with large-scale
deliveries and potentially mass production by a Hungarian firm possible next year if it proves safe and effective, according to Budapest.

Hungarian doctors and experts will soon study the production of Sputnik V
in Russia, Szijjarto told a press conference with Russian health minister
Mikhail Murashko in Budapest on Friday.

Their visit would allow a speedier decision on approval of the vaccine in
Hungary, said Szijjarto.

While Hungary has reserved potential future vaccines from both Europe and the United States, it is also in contact with Chinese and Israeli developers, according to Budapest.

“No one can say for certain when we’ll get a vaccine or when it’ll be
mass-produced, (hence) Hungary should also look to the east and cooperate
with Russia and China,” a foreign ministry official Tamas Menczer said this
week.

Menczer accused critics of the procurement plans of representing the
interests of pharmaceutical multinationals and “the Brussels lobby scene”.

Meanwhile, Hungarian pro-government media are in favour of Sputnik V and criticise Brussels for being cautious.

Tamas Denes, a spokesman for doctors’ trade union Reszasz, cautiously
welcomed the arrival of Sputnik V, but admitted that “it is hard not to see
politics in it”.

However, “refusing Sputnik just because it was developed in Russia is not
a good idea either, it is good to have options,” Denes said.

“I hope for safe vaccines regardless of the country of origin,” he said. — NNN-AGENCIES