Hungary expects to take delivery of the first shipment of China’s Sinopharm vaccine next week, Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff, told a briefing. The first batch contains 500,000 doses, he said, adding that Hungary’s public health authority is yet to assess the vaccine. So far, more than 30 million people have been inoculated with the Sinopharm vaccine worldwide, including ethnic Hungarians living in Serbia, he said. Hungary is also set to receive 200,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine this month.
Although the rollout of the jabs procured by the European Union was still taking too long, next week Hungary expects to resume inoculating people in the oldest age group as well as those under the age of 60 with chronic illnesses, he said. Vaccinations will also resume at social institutions where they had to be suspended, he added.
More than 300,000 people will have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in Hungary by the end of Thursday, with 294,624 people having received their first Covid shots by Wednesday and more than 117,000 having been fully inoculated. Some 30,000 elderly people will be inoculated by their general practitioners using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Gulyás said. Those not under the age of 75 not suffering a chronic illnesses will be inoculated using the Sputnik V jab at hospitals, he said. People below the age of 60 with chronic illnesses are being inoculated using the AstraZeneca vaccine, he added. Hungary has also asked the EU to speed up its vaccine deliveries, which the commission has promised to do, Gulyás said.
The PM’s chief of staff also said that though Hungary had got the second wave of the pandemic under control thanks to its restrictions introduced on Nov. 11, the pandemic was now in a phase of stagnation while the rest of Europe was experiencing a third wave. The UK variant of the virus is spreading more easily in Hungary as well, he said, adding that this could lead to another uptick in cases.
Gulyás said the consumer protection authority has launched an investigation into the practices of the International Vaccination Centre after it was revealed that it had accepted downpayments for Covid vaccines that it did not have in stock.
He said that under the most optimistic scenario regarding the vaccination campaign, more than two million people could be inoculated by the end of March provided that all of the scheduled vaccine shipments are delivered on time.
Meanwhile, government spokeswoman Alexandra Szentkirályi said the government has earmarked the necessary funding for its latest National Consultation public survey concerning when to lift coronavirus restrictions. The survey will be accessible online at the website vakcinainfo.gov.hu in a few days.