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Hungary receives first shipment of Sinopharm vaccine

February 16, 2021

A plane carrying 550,000 doses of the shot has landed in Budapest making Hungary the first EU nation to use the Chinese-made inoculation. The delivery includes enough to treat 275,000 people.

A Sinopharm sign is seen at the 2020 China International Fair of Trade in Services in Beijing
A Sinopharm sign is seen at the 2020 China International Fair of Trade in Services in BeijingImage: Tingshu Wang/REUTERS

Hungary became the first EU country to receive the Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.

The country is purchasing vaccines from countries outside the EU's common procurement program, claiming that delays in the bloc's rollout are costing lives.  

How many vaccines did Hungary receive?

A jet carrying 550,000 doses of the jab, developed by the Chinese state-owned company Sinopharm, arrived in the capital Budapest, from Beijing.

The shipment contains enough to treat 275,000 people, Dr. Agney Galgoczy, the head of the Epidemiology Department of the National Public Health center said.

The shots will be offered for use as soon as the authorities have inspected the shipment, Galgoczy added.

The country expects to receive 5 million total doses of the Sinopharm vaccine over the next four months. Budapest announced the deal in January.

Neighboring Serbia is already using the inoculation, which Sinopharm says is nearly 80% effective. Around half a million ethnic Hungarians have already received the jab there.

Orban playing a geo-political game

DW spoke with German Green Party MEP Reinhard Bütikofer regarding Hungary's procurement of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, breaking from the unified EU strategy. Bütikofer expressed his concerns that the Hungarian prime minister was playing a political game.

"You get the impression that what Orban is doing here, as in so many other cases, is rather motivated by geo-political posturing, than by real health concerns."

He also urged Orban to listen to his medical experts who, like the EU, have not yet recommended the use of the Russian or Chinese vaccines.

The German MEP also expressed disbelief that Hungary would be able to vaccinate all of its people by Easter as Orban has promised.

"When I look at the announcements ... and the promises he makes and the amount of vaccine that he imports from China, I'm not sure he can even deliver on his promise."

Hungary and the Sputnik vaccine

Last week Hungary also became the first EU member to administer Russia's Sputnik V vaccine.

Budapest is set to purchase 2 million doses of the vaccine

The country has logged 389,622 cases and 13,837 deaths since the start of the pandemic. 

lc/rt (Reuters, AP)