We reported yesterday that a sample of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine arrived in Budapest. However, the European Commission does not like the idea that part of Hungary’s population would be immunised with Moscow’s vaccine. It seems that the issue will develop into a further conflict between the Hungarian government and the different institutions of the European Union. The European Commission said yesterday that the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine raised safety concerns and could damage trust in potential shots.
According to Reuters, Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s close relations to Russian President Vladimir Putin cause many clashes with the European Union. Now it seems that Budapest is going to have more conflicts with Brussels due to the issue since they would like to use the Russian COVID-19 vaccine to immunise the population. The European Commission said that “Hungarian plans to conduct trials of and possibly produce the Russian vaccine, an unprecedented step for an EU member state,” Reuters reported.
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The problem is that the vaccine will not be reviewed by the EMA (European Medicines Agency), only by the Hungarian National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition. The institution said that no drugs can be administered to any EU citizen without their permission.
“This is where the authorisation process and vaccine confidence meet. If our citizens start questioning the safety of a vaccine, should it not have gone through a rigorous scientific assessment to prove its safety and efficacy, it will be much harder to vaccinate a sufficient proportion of the population,” a Commission spokesman highlighted. The Hungarian government said that
they would not only like to import vaccines from Russia but also produce them in large quantity if the shot proved safe and effective.
According to Reuters, the interim trial results of the Sputnik V were 92 pc effective at protecting people from the COVID-19 respiratory disease. Meanwhile, U.S. firms Moderna and Pfizer showed slightly better results, but they are not ready for mass production. Reuters said that the Hungarian government did not respond to questions on whether it wanted to licence the Sputnik V vaccine at home or through the required EU process.
Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian sovereign wealth fund, said that Russia is ready to share all relevant data with the European Medicines Agency. Furthermore, he said that
the Sputnik V will be trialled and produced in Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, and the United Arab Emirates as well.
The EU’s relevant rules allow the use of unauthorised vaccines in emergency cases “in response to the suspected or confirmed spread of pathogenic agents, toxins, chemical agents, or nuclear radiation, any of which could cause harm.” Therefore, Hungary can use even the Russian vaccine despite what the Commission or EU experts say.
The European Union already signed contracts with five vaccine makers to buy nearly 2 billion doses, but negotiations are still going on with other producers. That means that Hungary will receive shots from the EU, but that will not be available in early-2021. According to azonnali.hu, that is why the government would like to import and produce Russian vaccines to win some time.