Hungary and Russia have started talks on strategic cooperation on vaccine production, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said after talks with Denis Manturov, the Russian minister for industry and trade, on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia on Thursday. Szijjártó said the talks between the Hungarian national vaccine centre and the Russian Direct Investment Fund has resulted in a preliminary agreement whereby Russia allows production in Hungary of its Sputnik V vaccine pending the signing of a strategic cooperation agreement. Technical issues are yet to be discussed, he added. “The point is that Hungary and Russia are both open to Hungary manufacturing vaccines under a Russian licence,” Szijjártó said.
He noted Hungary will begin operating its own vaccine plant in late 2022, adding that Thursday’s deal was preliminary. The Russian jab is especially popular in the East, the minister said, adding that new production capacities would be needed to meet growing demand. “If Hungary can profit from this, then I think it’s worth having a go at it,” Szijjártó said, adding that the planned cooperation in vaccine production would be a continuation of the recent partnership between Hungary and Russia. Szijjártó praised Manturov for his role in allowing Hungary to be the first European country to purchase Russia’s coronavirus vaccine, noting that all of the doses had been delivered on time. He said the partnership had enabled one million Hungarians who received Sputnik jabs to develop immunity to the virus and Hungary to be the first European country to reopen its economy.