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AstraZeneca, Sputnik V vaccines get authorities’ approval

Hungarian authorities have approved the use of the British AstraZeneca and Russian Sputnik V vaccines, news portal Origo said. Hungary is the first European Union country where vaccination can be started with these two vaccines, Origo said.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is already in use in Britain but the EU medicine authority is not expected to approve it before the end of January. The vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca is cheaper and easier to transport than Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s similar products, Origo said.

A total of 200 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine were produced in 2020 and once the necessary licences are issued, monthly output can total up to 200 million, the website said.

The vaccine is based on a safe and well-known method of injecting modified chimpanzee adenovirus in the body which is completely safe for humans. After vaccination, a spike protein is produced which promotes the immune system to attack the coronavirus.

Sputnik V is based on two human adenoviruses containing the gene that encodes the spike protein to stimulate an immune response.

Some 1.5 million people have been vaccinated in Russia with it and it has been registered in six countries including Serbia, Origo said.

Origo added that the British and Russian vaccine manufacturers had been involved in talks about cooperation since December 8.

Hungary receives draft contract to procure Russian vaccine

Hungary has received a draft contract to procure Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Wednesday.

Szijjarto told MTI that he had held phone talks with Mikhail Murashko, the Russian health minister, who is also the co-leader of the Hungarian-Russian inter-governmental economic mixed committee.

“Time is of the essence,” Szijjarto said, adding that Hungary was in need of a swift supply of a large quantity of a safe and effective vaccine against coronavirus. The virus is claiming around 100 lives every day and the restrictions put in place are costing the economy some 10 billion forints a day, the minister said.

Experts of Hungary’s National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition (OGYEI) are currently in Russia analysing the manufacturing process of the Russian vaccine, he said. On Thursday, they are scheduled to hold talks with representatives of Russia’s health authority, he added.

Meanwhile, lawyers of the National Public Health Centre (NNK) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade are also hard at work in connection with the draft purchase agreement for the Russian Covid vaccine which the Russian Direct Investment Fund has sent to Hungary, Szijjarto said. The draft agreement could serve as the basis for Hungary receiving shipments of the vaccine, he added.

If after inspecting the vaccine’s manufacturing process and reviewing its documentation the drug authority grants approval for emergency use of the Russian vaccine in Hungary, the government can sign the contract and agree on the supply of a large quantity of a safe vaccine to the country, Szijjarto said.

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