Hungary is the first EU member state to start vaccinating the population with vaccines not yet authorised in the EU, kicking up the Community vaccination strategy, reported the well-known American newspaper.
Vaccination with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, recently licensed by the National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition (OGYÉI), has already started in Hungary. As we wrote before, inoculations in Hungary using the Russian Sputnik V vaccine started in Budapest (read more HERE).
One of the Chinese coronavirus vaccines from China’s Sinopharm will soon be used, according to The New York Times. Writers of the article believe that this move could undermine the Union’s common vaccination strategy. As we reported, inoculation of Hungarians against coronavirus with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine will start this week.
The newspaper also referred to Hungary’s difficult economic situation and identified next year’s elections as one of the main drivers of a vaccination plan to bypass the EU’s vaccination strategy. The paper quoted Viktor Orbán’s speech in January, in which the prime minister justified his extraordinary decision by saying that “My opinion is that what I need, and what the Hungarian people need, is not an explanation, but a vaccine, and if it is not coming from Brussels, then it must come from elsewhere.”
Until now, neither Sputnik V nor the Sinopharm vaccine have been registered in the European Union, meaning that they have not yet received marketing authorisation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
As The New York Times wrote about it, critics of Orbán’s move argue that adulteration with vaccines could undermine the block’s joint vaccination program, which also coordinates orders and distribution. It was even raised as a problem that the price of the Russian vaccine is lower than that of other vaccines, and so the Russian manufacturer is trying to break into the European vaccine market.
“Orbán is using the vaccine to play a perfidious political game to weaken, break up the bloc,” stated Andrzej Halicki, a Polish member of the European Parliament.
At the same time, “if a Member State wants to contract companies that are not covered by the EU’s vaccination strategy, it has the right to do so”, added Stefan De Keersmaecker, a spokesman for the European Commission. But he also pointed out that the use of vaccines not authorised by the EMA places a particularly heavy responsibility on decision-makers in a given country.
In Hungary, OGYÉI approved the use of the Russian vaccine, even though professional organisations objected to the incomplete documentation of the vaccine and the lack and opacity of the Phase 3 trial results. Since then, although a study on experimental results and the vaccine’s effectiveness have been published in the acclaimed The Lancet magazine, it has not yet convinced other EU countries about the safe use of the vaccine.
However, not even that much can be known about the Chinese vaccine to be used in mass vaccination in Hungary soon. It is no coincidence that, although the government has officially ordered 5 million doses of it, polls show that confidence in the Chinese vaccine is still low.