BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Some 3,000 to 5,000 Hungarians could participate in clinical trials of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19, Hungarian Human Resources Minister Miklos Kasler said on Facebook on Monday.
Hungary’s plans to conduct trials of and possibly produce the Russian vaccine, an unprecedented step for an EU member state, have added to existing frictions with Brussels.
Under EU rules, Sputnik V must be authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) before it can be marketed in any state of the 27-nation bloc, the EMA has said.
Moscow began distributing the Sputnik V COVID-19 shot via 70 clinics on Saturday to the most exposed groups, marking Russia’s first large-scale vaccination against the disease, the city’s coronavirus task force said.
Kasler said a Hungarian delegation of medical experts had received “detailed notification” about the Russian vaccine in Moscow, and observed “that the vaccine is being manufactured with the latest technology and with WHO protocols being applied”.
Hungary said late last month that Russia would allow Hungarian doctors to observe the manufacturing process and laboratory tests for its vaccine against COVID-19.
Russia could ship some of the vaccine to Budapest as soon as this month.
Hungary has also secured over 12 million doses of vaccines from western pharmaceuticals companies and is in talks with China and Israel about potential vaccine shipments.
(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Toby Chopra and Ed Osmond)