The Hungarian government is “forced to find its own sources for a vaccine” as mass vaccination against Covid-19 has not yet started in the European Union due to “delays by the European Commission”, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office told his regular weekly press conference on Thursday.
“The government is in talks with every potential supplier including China and Russia,” Gergely Gulyás said. He stressed that the government would only buy vaccines “which have been used to inoculate several million people” and which the Hungarian authorities deem “safe and effective”.
Gulyás slammed the European Medicine Agency for slow licencing, and said that Hungary’s authorities had already granted a licence to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“If the European authority followed suit, vaccination (in Hungary) could start,” he said.
He also noted that a Russian vaccine had also been granted a temporary licence to be applied in Hungary.
Vaccine supplies to the EU are “clearly insufficient”, Gulyás said, noting that mass vaccination was already under way in Israel, the US, the UK and in several Arab countries.
Hungary cannot ease its coronavirus-related restrictions as long as there is no significant drop in the number of new cases, Gulyás said, but added that the spread of the virus was slowing down and the number of fatalities was also decreasing, contrary to a large part of the region where a third wave of the pandemic had hit.
Gulyás said that people to be inoculated would be asked which vaccine they preferred, but added that if the preferred product was not available the client would have to wait until it was purchased.
Gulyás called it “irresponsible” to “spread rumours about vaccines that could save lives”. He also said it was fake news that unused vaccines were dumped. “It could not happen and it would have serious consequences,” he said, adding that doctors must not disregard the official vaccination schedule.
Gulyás was asked about leftist criticism of the government pressuring the health authorities to licence the Russian and Chinese vaccines in Hungary, in light of the Austrian, Danish, and Greek governments calling on the European Medicine Agency to grant a licence to the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine. He said the government would not pressure any authority to disregard professional protocols.
Answering a question about whether Hungary would meet the European target of vaccinating 80 percent of people above the age of 80, as well as health and welfare employees, by March, and 70 percent of the adult population by the summer, Gulyás said that in light of delays in vaccine supplies from the EU, this could only be achieved if alternative sources of supply were involved.
Gulyás said that Pfizer could not be sanctioned for temporarily supplying smaller amounts of its vaccine under effective agreements
Wage increase in health sector to cover GPs, dentists
The government has decided to include GPs in the wage increase scheme in the health sector because the success of GP practices is vitally important for the operation of the health-care system, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office said on Thursday.
Gergely Gulyás told a regular press briefing that GPs have been instrumental in the efforts against the coronavirus epidemic and they deserve to be recognised.
Those that fully participate in the general GP practice partnership scheme will benefit from the full wage increase, Gulyás said.
Those that choose a looser form of participation will get 80 percent of the difference as detailed in the wage scale for doctors, he said. Those that opt out will still get a 30 percent wage increase, he added.
The same will apply to dentists working in state-run surgeries, Gulyás said.