The pace of vaccinations could significantly increase in Hungary in the next few months, as around 7.5 million doses of EU vaccines will arrive in the country. After various criticism of the European Union’s delayed and slow vaccine delivery to Member States, at a two-day summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday, Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, declared at a press conference that the European Union considers it a key task to speed up the production of coronavirus vaccines in Europe and to improve the distribution of vaccines between Member States.
During the summit, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gave an overview to Member State leaders on how joint vaccine procurement has developed so far and what could be expected in the next quarter. According to her, so far, pharmaceutical companies delivered a total of about 88 million doses of vaccines, of which about 62 million have been administered. 18.2 million Europeans already received their second vaccination as well, which is around 4.1 percent of the total population.
President Ursula von der Leyen has also published the graphs she presented to EU leaders during the conference. According to the data the deliveries in the first quarter were as follows:
- BioNTech-Pfizer supplied 66 million instead of 65 million
- Moderna has undertaken and supplied 10 million
- AstraZeneca delivered only 30 million instead of the promised 120 million.
The graph summarizing the first quarter shows that AstraZeneca, with which the Commission has been wrestling for many weeks, was indeed significantly behind the contracted volume: only 30 million doses of vaccine were delivered instead of 120 million. However, the manufacturers of the other two approved vaccines not only kept up the pace, but in the case of Pfizer-BioNTech, also surpassed it: 66 million doses were distributed among member states instead of 65 million.
The reliable and increasing supply of the Pfizer vaccines after initial difficulties is also good news because this vaccine remains the cornerstone of the domestic vaccination program: Hungary has ordered the most of this type of vaccine and also the most doses administered in the country are from Pfizer. Hungary bought 10.87 million doses of this type of vaccine, by far the most in the country.
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And this will not stop in the future, as the European Commission presented their plans for the next quarter with the following numbers:
- 200 million doses from BioNTech-Pfizer
- 35 million from Moderna
- Instead of 180, 70 million from AstraZeneca
- 55 million from the single-dose Johnson & Johnson.
The vaccine volume for the second quarter, April-May-June, will be dominated by Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines as they will significantly boost capacity as previously promised and deliver 200 million doses. What this means is that while Hungary received around 1.5 million doses in the first quarter, it is expected that in the second quarter around 4 million doses will be delivered just by the American company, Pfizer.
Moderna still plays a smaller role in the EU’s vaccination program, but after the 10 million doses delivered in the first quarter, they will ship much more ( 35 million) to the EU in the second quarter. AstraZeneca is expected to deliver less of its commitment this quarter as well, instead of 180 million the company will deliver 70 million doses. However, a new company appeared on the list with Johnson & Johnson delivering nearly 55 million doses for Europeans.
With the new plans for April-May-June, Hungary altogether could receive around 7.5 million doses of vaccine from the European Union, which could significantly increase the country’s vaccination rate.
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The arrival of the new vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson will be a new milestone in the fight against the coronavirus, as this is the first single-dose vaccine approved in the EU and Hungary as well. The European Commission announced on March 11th that a conditional authorization had been granted for the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine following a recommendation from the Amsterdam-based European Medicines Agency (EMA). According to the company’s tests, the vaccine provides 85 percent protection against the development of the most severe symptoms.
The European Union has ordered 200 million doses of the US vector vaccine, of which they will have to deliver around 55 million doses to the EU in the second quarter. Hungary has made a deal for 4.36 million doses, and the Task Force previously announced that the vaccine will come to the country as of mid-April.
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Altogether, when we look at the numbers, the prospects of achieving herd immunity by summer is possible in the European Union and in Hungary as well. In light of the new plans, by the end of June, 305 million double-dose and 55 million single-dose vaccines will be available (only those which have been approved by the EMA). With these, 207.5 million Europeans could be fully inoculated, to which we should also add the 44 million people vaccinated in the first quarter. According to reports so far, in order to achieve herd immunity, which is around 70% of the population, around 255 million Europeans need to be fully inoculated against the coronavirus.
Apart from vaccines from the European Union, Hungary is also using two other vaccines from Russia and China, namely Sputnik V and Sinopharm vaccines. There are altogether 7 million booked vaccines, with 2 million Sputnik and 5 million Sinopharm according to the coronavirus government webpage. So far around 855,600 Sputnik and 1,100,000 Sinopharm vaccines arrived in the country, so there are still several doses which have not entered Hungary yet. Furthermore, it was recently reported that we have passed the milestone of 2 million vaccinations, which still puts the country on top of the list within Europe in terms of vaccines administered per 100 people.
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Luckily we can expect the pace of vaccinations to further increase in the next few months in light of the new developments in EU vaccination strategy, and there are still several doses of “Eastern” vaccines that have not arrived yet. Moreover, it was recently declared by Hungary’s medicines authority OGYÉI that two other vaccines were granted license in the country. The Chinese CanShino coronavirus vaccine and Covishield, AstraZeneca’s vaccine produced in India, will shortly be in use in the country; however, there is no further information on the exact date and quantity.
Featured photo illustration by Attila Balázs/MTI