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Hungary receives first batch of Russian COVID-19 vaccine

FILE PHOTO: A medical specialist holds a vial of Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus in a department store in Moscow, Russia, January 18, 2021 REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov/File Photo

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary will receive its first 40,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, enough to vaccinate 20,000 people, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said.

“The first shipment will arrive today based on the deal we signed in Moscow,” Szijjarto said in a video on his Facebook page.

Under a deal signed last month, Russia will ship 2 million doses of the vaccine to Hungary in the coming three months, enough to inoculate 1 million people, Szijjarto said.

He said the National Public Health Centre would put the vaccine shipment through tests before the shots are distributed.

EU countries so far are relying almost entirely on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but Hungary’s drug regulator approved Sputnik V for use last month.

Hungary’s drug regulator has also granted emergency use approval to Chinese Sinopharm’s vaccine, rather than waiting for the bloc’s European Medicines Agency (EMA) to give the go-ahead.

Hungary has also approved the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose nationalist government frequently bucks the consensus among its EU peers, said he would personally opt to receive the Chinese vaccine as he trusted it more than others.

Reporting by Krisztina Than and Gergely Szakacs, Editig by Timothy Heritage

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