BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary could receive up to one million doses of coronavirus vaccine from China in the coming months, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told state news agency MTI on Friday after a phone call with his Chinese counterpart.
Hungary earlier announced it also plans to import Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. The European Commission said on Thursday that Hungary’s plan raises safety concerns, opening a new front in the EU’s fraught relations with Budapest.
Hungary is in touch with all three Chinese companies working on a vaccine and they will soon send the documentation to Hungary that will allow local authorities to decide whether to allow use of the vaccines, Szijjarto said.
“The approval for the export procedure is already in progress. If laboratory tests in Hungary are positive, 500,000 to one million doses of Chinese vaccines could arrive in the next few months,” he said.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government said it would begin importing a small number of doses of Russia’s Sputnik V this week, which could lead to larger imports and mass production in Hungary.
Under EU rules, all vaccines must be authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) before they can be marketed in any of the bloc’s 27 member states.
Asked about Orban’s Sputnik V plans, a spokesman for the Commission, the EU’s executive, said: “The question arises whether a member state would want to administer to its citizens a vaccine that has not been reviewed by EMA.”
(Reporting by Anita Komuves; Editing by Gareth Jones)