Hungary procures 'large quantities' of Russian vaccine


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses during a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Budapest February 17, 2015.

BUDAPEST - The Hungarian government said Friday it had reached a deal to buy large quantities of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, even though it has not been approved by the European Union's medicines watchdog.

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"Hungary has concluded with Russia an agreement to buy in three phases large quantities of the Sputnik V vaccine; the contract has been negotiated, and signed during the night," Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in a video statement on his Facebook page after meeting the Russian health minister in Moscow.

He added more details would be given "during the day".

The deal comes a day after Hungary became the first EU member to approve Sputnik V, as well as the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.

Hungary has repeatedly criticised what it says is the slow pace of vaccine approval and procurement by EU authorities.

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According to regulations from the EU's Amsterdam-based European Medicines Agency (EMA), a national regulator may grant a temporary licence for a vaccine in an emergency situation. 

The EMA is currently evaluating the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and has said a decision on its approval could come before the end of next week.

However, Sputnik V is not being examined by the agency.

The Sputnik doses still need a final sign-off from a Hungarian public health authority, so it was unknown when the first jabs would actually be administered.

Russia in August registered Sputnik V -- named after the Soviet-era satellite -- months ahead of Western competitors but before the start of large-scale clinical trials, which left some experts wary.


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