Photo: MTI

Hungary lends Slovenia 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines

Hungary has lent 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to Slovenia to help it speed up its inoculation campaign, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said after talks with Prime Minister Janez Jansa and Health Minister Janez Poklukar in Ljubljana on Wednesday.

Hungary already has enough jabs stored for everyone registered in Hungary, Szijjarto told a joint press conference.

The pandemic highlights the importance of mutual dependence among neighbouring countries, Szijjarto said.

Successful protection efforts in neighbouring countries also contribute to the safety of Hungarians, he said. The speedier their inoculation campaign progresses, the sooner Hungarians can travel without restrictions and without the risk of infection, he added.

The pandemic has posed extreme challenges even for rich and strong countries, Szijjarto said. Unfortunately, the European Union has botched vaccine procurement, he said. “That is not a politically motivated opinion, it is a truth bolstered by numbers,” as evidenced in the progress by how Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom surpassed the EU, Szijjarto said.

At the same time, Hungary handled the pandemic very successfully, and is leading the pack in Europe in vaccination, he said. “We see the vaccine for what it is, a tool to save lives,” rather than an ideological and geopolitical issue, he said.

The “smaller, slower vaccine deliveries were not helping Slovenia and central European countries somehow landed behind in the bloc’s distribution priorities,” Szijjarto said. Hungary jumped in to provide 300,000 doses, he added.

Poklukar thanked Hungary for the vaccines and said Slovenia was expecting to “give back” the vaccines by autumn this year the latest. “Every single dose contributes to a successful vaccination campaign,” he said.

Jansa praised Slovenia’s neighbours as friendly states who made sure that “Slovenia is not alone in the pandemic”. Hungary was better prepared for the pandemic than the EU average, and was able to help Slovenian hospitals last spring during the first outbreak, he said. He congratulated Hungary on being above EU average regarding herd immunity and the speed of its inoculation campaign.

“As the prime minister of the country set to take over the EU presidency on July 1, I would like to thank you for the help Hungary provided to Slovenia and other countries in the region,” Janza said.

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