Zoltán Kovács, the state secretary for international communications and relations, warned against politicising the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in a letter to the editor of Dutch daily De Telegraaf in response to a recent op-ed published in the paper criticising Hungary’s decision to use Russia’s Sputnik V Covid jab in its vaccination campaign. If the Netherlands wants to endanger the lives of its people “by politicising access to Covid-19 vaccines, it is free to do so”, Kovács said in his letter. Hungary, however, prioritises saving the lives of its citizens and slowing the spread of the virus, he added.
Kovács said the op-ed on Hungary’s procurement of the Russian vaccine “shows why the Netherlands, with a per capita vaccination rate that is half the Hungarian percentage, unfortunately lags behind all EU countries”, with the exception of Latvia and Bulgaria. The state secretary noted the example of Serbia, which he said had not been “delayed by a joint EU vaccination procurement programme” and had not had to wait for approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to start mass vaccinations. Hungary’s decision to use the Russian vaccine was not made in haste, Kovács said. The Hungarian public health authority approved the jab after conducting rigorous tests on it, he added.