According to a member of the Hungarian government, Brussels is to blame for the slow arrival of the Coronavirus vaccine in Hungary. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Tamás Menczer believes that the EU has made a bad and belated deal. According to the European Commission’s Health Commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, there are no delays- the low supply is only due to the limited capacity of manufacturers.
In a Sunday radio interview, Prime Minister Orbán said that he is “not satisfied with the pace” of the vaccines arriving from the west, because “…there are manufacturers whose products were available sooner in Canada, Britain, and Israel than for instance in the European Union.” At the same time he added that Brussels was not to blame for “being at the mercy of pharmaceutical companies.”
On Tuesday, Hungary’s state secretary for Foreign Affairs was a lot more critical of the EU, saying that Brussels had made a bad agreement too late, adding that this is why Hungary cannot obtain more vaccines at the moment.
Tamás Menczer claimed that the EU had also made a mistake in concluding a contract with vaccine manufacturer Pfizer only last November, while the US and the UK had already signed their contracts in July, for much larger quantities.
There are also countries that have paid more for the vaccine but are also getting it, Menczer said.
But Stella Kyriakides, the European Union’s health commissioner, defended the bloc’s vaccination program. In her response to Euronews, the commissioner said that she thinks there is no delay and the current difficulties are due to bottlenecks in production.
Kyriakides said that the persisting problem would be resolved if products from several manufacturers entered the market at the same time. This week, Moderna’s vaccine will likely receive approval from the EU (by this time it has already been approved) and she expects one or two more vaccines to be introduced in the upcoming months.
As Euronews points out, the other reason why the EU is a month behind some other countries is licensing.
Vaccines from Pfizer and AstraZeneca in the United Kingdom have received emergency authorization in the UK and the US, but the EC does not have such an option.
Euronews notes that Hungary could have done the same a month ago, at the same time as the UK. However, if the Hungarian government had decided so, all liability and claims for damages would have been on them.
So far, Hungary’s only source of vaccines is those it got from the EU, as the government’s plan to use Russia’s Sputnik V or Chinese vaccines has not materialized so far.
In the past week, the Orbán government has come under heavy fire for the reduced speed of the vaccine rollout since in 11 days only 21,000 healthcare workers were inoculated despite the supply being enough for 78,000, and the Prime Minister said earlier that the whole country could be vaccinated during a weekend if there were enough vaccines.
In the featured photo illustration: Foreign Ministry stat secretary Tamás Menczer. Photo by Lajos Soós/MTI