Irked by slow EU rollout, Hungary approves Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus

Irked by slow EU rollout, Hungary approves Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus

Irked by slow EU rollout, Hungary approves Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus

Budapest: Hungarian authorities have approved a Russian coronavirus vaccine, moving the country closer to becoming the first in the European Union to administer the shot to its population.

The vaccine, Sputnik V, received a six-month authorisation Wednesday from Hungary’s National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition, institute director Matyas Szentivanyi told public television. It must be approved by the country’s National Public Health Center, a process that could take several weeks.

Hungary was the first EU country to receive samples of the Russian vaccine in November.

Around 1,34,000 people have been vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in Hungary so far. Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, has been critical of the speed of the EU’s vaccine rollout and pursued separate agreements with Russia and China in an effort to get more doses to the central European country.

Sputnik V — hailed in August by Russian President Vladimir Putin as the world’s first registered COVID-19 vaccine — has not been approved by the European Medicines Agency, the bloc’s medicines regulator. But member states may negotiate separately with manufacturers not covered by the bloc’s joint procurement programme, and issue temporary emergency use approval to such vaccines.

The Russian vaccine has been approved in six countries including Argentina, Belarus, and Serbia, Hungary’s non-EU neighbour, which began administering Sputnik V this month.