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Szijjarto to Russian press: most Hungarians have already received a Russian jab

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto. (Photo: V4 Agency)

By: V4 Agency

Following talks in Moscow on Friday, Hungarian foreign minister told the Rusian press that Hungary was ready to implement any vaccine approved and authorised by the national regulatory board, including Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

Hungary has purchased two million doses of the coronavirus vaccine from Russia, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto announced on Friday after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.

In an interview with Russian business portal rbc.ru, Szijjarto confirmed that Hungary is seeking to use the Russian vaccine due to the EU’s vaccine procurement difficulties.

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The Hungarian foreign minister told the portal that it was unacceptable that the vaccination process had become a political issue.

He went on to explain, “to be honest, it makes no difference to me which vaccine we use as long as it is approved by the Hungarian national authority. Be it Chinese, Russian, American – it just doesn’t matter.” He also noted that about 90 per cent of Hungarians have at least once in their lives been inoculated with a vaccine of Russian origin.

The Hungarian foreign minister, who himself had already recovered from the Covid-19 infection last November, talked about taking the jab when it will be the government members’ turn to do so. Regarding the rollout of inoculation, he said that once staff in health care facilities and nursing homes were protected, a broader phase of vaccination would include people over the age of 60 and those with chronic comorbidities. To date, more than one million Hungarians have pre-registered to receive the vaccine, the minister said.

Szijjarto emphasized that he valued the experience of Russian scientists in the field of medicine and also fully trusted the decision of the Hungarian national pharmaceutical authority to green-light Sputnik V and authorize its emergency use. He underscored his view by recalling that the relevant Hungarian board had carried out a thorough investigation prior to authorisation, with specialists visiting the Russian manufacturing plant twice, as well as meeting and consulting with relevant Russian experts.

Mr Szijjarto stated that the process of centralized procurement of coronavirus vaccines by the European Union had slowed down considerably, and the number of vaccines shipped to Hungary was merely a fraction of what was needed.

The agreement reached for delivery of the Sputnik V vaccine to Hungary is the result of long and difficult negotiations between the two countries, the Hungarian foreign minister told RBC reporter Evgeny Pudovkin.

Under the agreement, Russia will deliver in stages with the initial shipment due in Hungary within thirty days. This first batch will provide for the protection of 300 thousand people, to be followed by a second shipment enough for another half a million people in the next 30 days, and a third shipment 30 days later to vaccinate another 200 thousand people.

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