Hungary expects to take delivery of the first shipment of China’s Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine next week, the prime minister’s chief of staff said on Thursday.
The first batch will contain 500,000 doses, Gergely Gulyás told a weekly press briefing, adding that Hungary’s public health authority still had to assess the vaccine.
Hungary is also set to receive 200,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine this month, Gulyás said.
He said that though the rollout of the jabs procured by the European Union was still taking too long, Hungary expects to resume inoculating people in the oldest age group as well as those under the age of 60 with chronic illnesses next week. Vaccinations will also resume at social institutions where they had to be suspended, he added.
Gulyás noted that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has conceded that mistakes were made with the planning of the EU’s Covid vaccine strategy and the rollout of the jabs.
Meanwhile, Gulyás said that more than 300,000 people will have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in Hungary by the end of Thursday. Altogether 294,624 people received their first Covid shots by Wednesday and more than 117,000 have been fully inoculated, he said.
Some 30,000 elderly people will be inoculated by their general practitioners using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Gulyás said. Meanwhile, those without chronic illnesses under the age of 75 will be inoculated using the Sputnik V jab at hospitals, he said.
People under 60 with chronic illnesses are also being inoculated using the AstraZeneca vaccine, he added.
The government is in talks with more vaccine manufacturers “and the reason why we need to procure vaccines from every possible source is to ensure that life can get back to normal as quickly as possible”, he said.
Hungary has also asked the EU to speed up its vaccine deliveries, which the commission has promised to do, Gulyás said.
The PM’s chief of staff also said that though Hungary had got the second wave of the pandemic under control thanks to its restrictions introduced on Nov. 11, the pandemic was now in a phase of stagnation while the rest of Europe was experiencing a third wave.
The UK variant of the virus is spreading more easily in Hungary as well, he said, adding that this could lead to another uptick in cases.
Meanwhile, government spokeswoman Alexandra Szentkirályi said the government has earmarked the necessary funding for its latest National Consultation public survey concerning when to lift coronavirus restrictions.
The survey will be accessible online at the website vakcinainfo.gov.hu in a few days, she said, urging the public to fill it out.
Last year, the government also used the results of a nationwide survey to shape the response measures that have been in effect since November, Szentkirályi said.
featured image illustration via Tamás Vasvári/MTI