As the world is in a rush for a coronavirus vaccine, Hungarian government officials have confidently announced that vaccines could soon arrive to Hungary. The Russian and Chinese products’ reliability and efficacy are still under question, but the government is trustful.
According to the World Health Organization, there are now nearly 180 potential vaccines currently being developed worldwide. Of those, 34 are currently being tested on people. Among those, eight (or eleven, according to other information) are at the most advanced stage, with China leading the competition, according to experts.
Russia’s state-run Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology made headlines by becoming the first to register a Covid-19 vaccine in August before final clinical trials began the following month. Around 85% of Russian volunteers who received the Sputnik V vaccine reported no side effects, according to the developer. It is now being tested on 40,000 volunteers. According to Gamaleya leader Alexander Gintsburg, Sputnik V’s side effects can include a fever of 38 degrees Celsius, headaches, and muscle pain.
In addition, it has been recently revealed that Russia would likely miss its self-imposed timeline for mass vaccination due to insufficient production capacity, something that could have consequences for those also interested in getting the Russian vaccine.
In China, one of the vaccines that still hasn’t passed final (Stage 3) clinical trials is already being offered to the public. They also say their results are promising. While U.S. firm Moderna could be the first to submit a marketing authorization application in Europe.
Western scientists, however, have previously raised concerns about the speed of development of Russian vaccines, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners. The European Commission also warned that coronavirus vaccines obtained from outside the EU must comply with the bloc’s quality standards and approval procedures.
Anyhow, last week, both a State Secretary and the foreign minister made confident announcements about the Chinese and Russian vaccines. According to Tamás Menczer, negotiations are underway between three Chinese, a Russian, and an Israeli producer and Hungary was “close” to receiving vaccine samples from a Chinese manufacturer for testing. He also addressed the EC by adding that “one thing is for certain: if the vaccine is developed in the East first, neither the lobbyists in Brussels nor those of international pharmaceuticals will prevent us from importing the vaccine.” Meanwhile, Péter Szijjártó claimed that small quantities of the Russian vaccine could potentially arrive in Hungary in December for testing and in large quantities in January.
In addition, other government politicians have also stood up and insisted the vaccines would be effective- most recently the Minister of Human Capacities Miklós Kásler (an oncologist by profession) claimed that he would get the vaccine.
Meanwhile, professor and head of PM Orbán’s coronavirus action group Ferenc Jakab, stressed that he trusts both the Chinese and Russian vaccines and would receive either of them for himself. He also explained that many think that researchers are in too much of a hurry with the development works, but since they have already accumulated a great deal of experience with the SARS and MERS viruses, their research cannot be categorized as (too) rapid.
Anyhow, if there would be a vaccine available, it would be procured by the state and be made available to the public free of charge, according to a recent promise by the PMO Chief.
featured image: Chinese Sinovac Biotech’s laboratory in Beijing; via MTI/AP