Hungary will not take part in the next phase of vaccine procurement organised by the European Union, the prime minister’s chief of staff said on Thursday.
Hungary has already ordered over 10 million Western vaccines, to be delivered by the end of 2022, Gergely Gulyás told a regular press briefing.
Once 5 million Hungarians have received their jabs, the vaccination drive is expected to slow down considerably, “even more so than after the four million mark”, Gulyás said.
Altogether, “we can expect 5.5 million [Hungarians to get inoculated], 6 million if we are optimistic,” he said.
He also said that a slowing down of the drive could be due to “a third or half” of the people registered for vaccination had had Covid-19, and “they will probably turn up for the shots but are in no hurry”.
The ten million Western vaccines will suffice even if a third jab becomes necessary, he said. “In addition, there are also Eastern vaccines at hand,” he said. He added that each vaccine provided immunity for at least 9 months.
Gulyás said that Hungary would have to order and pay for 19 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, irrespective of whether they are necessary or not. The Hungarian government “will not participate in that 120 billion (forint) game”, partly because a new plant in Debrecen, in eastern Hungary, will probably produce sufficient vaccines from the second half of next year, he insisted.
Hungary “is aware that the EU has a common vaccine purchase programme, and we hope that it will go smoother (in future) than it did in its first phase… but Hungary has amassed sufficient reserves,” Gulyás said.
Gulyás also said that the current special legal order would only be retained as long after the third wave of the pandemic “as absolutely necessary”. Other European countries have a lower vaccination rate and the risk of getting infected is “significantly higher”, he said.
The Indian variant of the coronavirus had not been detected in Hungary but “there is a chance” that it would, Gulyás said. “Therefore the government can lift some restrictions for everybody but some other restrictions for the immunised only,” he added.