Hungary has become the first EU country to begin using Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Budapest has repeatedly criticized the bloc’s sloppy vaccination drive, and secured Russian and Chinese vaccines despite no approval from Brussels.
The country will distribute the first 2,800 doses of Sputnik V among citizens registered for inoculations, Hungary’s Chief Medical Officer Cecilia Muller told a daily press briefing on Friday.
Today we are beginning to vaccinate with the Sputnik V vaccine, this is taking place at designated vaccination stations.
Budapest approved Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinopharm jabs last month for emergency use, despite a lack of the approval from the bloc’s health authority, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which has cautioned the member states against use of unauthorized vaccines. Budapest, for its part, has repeatedly criticized the EU’s vaccination program, which has been riven with multiple delays.
Under the EU’s drive, Budapest managed to inoculate some 300,000 people, who have received at least one shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, Muller revealed. The country’s vaccination drive has been focused primarily on healthcare workers and the most vulnerable groups in the elderly population.
Budapest is now set to receive 600,000 doses of Sputnik V and a further 500,000 of Sinopharm this month alone, allowing it to speed up its vaccination program.
Hungary has reported over 380,000 cases of coronavirus including some 13,500 deaths, since the beginning of the pandemic. While the figures are lower than the tallies of the worst-affected states, the numbers are quite significant for the nation of 10 million.
Multiple politicians across the EU have already either called for approval, or expressed readiness to use the Russian-made vaccine as soon as Brussels greenlights it. Last week, for instance, Ireland’s deputy PM Leo Varadkar, who is also a medical doctor, criticized the bloc’s slow-paced vaccination drive, stating that it was “unfortunate” that the EU has not yet authorized Sputnik V.
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