The Sputnik V vaccine – Photo:

Hospital visiting ban to be lifted next week

Chinese, Russian vaccines saved Hungary HUF 500 billion, official says

Hungary's use of Chinese and Russian Covid jabs in its vaccination rollout have saved the country more than 500 billion forints (EUR 1.43bn) as pandemic restrictions could be eased earlier, state secretary Tamas Menczer said at a conference in Zalaegerszeg, in western Hungary, on Thursday.

Menczer noted that four million people in Hungary had been inoculated against the coronavirus by April 30, adding that without Chinese and Russian vaccines, that number would not have been reached until “the second half of July”, meaning restrictions could have been in place for “another month and a half or two”.

Menczer said every day the country was locked down generated a loss of 10-15 billion forints. He added that 48 percent of Hungarians have had at least their first jab of a Covid vaccine, so far, well over the 32 percent rate for the European Union as a whole.

In addition to vaccines Hungary ordered in a joint procurement with the European Union, it also bought Sinopharm jabs from China and doses of Sputnik V from Russia. By late April, just before Hungary reached the 4 million inoculated threshold, deliveries of the Sinopharm and Sputnik vaccines accounted for around half of total Covid vaccine shipments to the country.

Hospital visiting ban to be lifted next week

Hungary will partially lift a ban on hospital visits from Monday, the chief medical officer has said.

Visitors, however, will still not be allowed to visit patients being treated for Covid-19, Cecilia Muller told an online press briefing. Patients in other units will only be allowed one visitor a day, who will have to present an immunity certificate and stay for not more than an hour, she said.

As regards vaccines, Muller said Hungary is scheduled to receive 54,800 doses of the Moderna jab on Thursday and 55,200 doses of AstraZeneca, all of which are to be used as second shots.

Szijjarto: Hungary pandemic response most successful in Europe

Hungary’s timely steps to purchase vaccines has allowed it to mount the most effective response to the coronavirus pandemic out of all European countries, Peter Szijjarto, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said during a break in a meeting with his EU counterparts in Brussels on Thursday.

“The reason why we’re in first place in vaccinations in Europe is because we bought enough vaccines in time,” Szijjarto said. Hungary has enough vaccines in stock, the minister said. The country will have more than 10 million doses of Eastern and Western jabs delivered by the end of next year, he said, adding that those shipments would suffice if a third shot becomes necessary.

Also, Hungary will begin operating its own vaccine plant at the end of 2022, Szijjarto said, adding that the jabs produced there would also be sufficient to inoculate everyone who has registered for vaccination. “This makes it completely unnecessary to buy more vaccines,” he said.

As regards the intellectual property rights on Covid vaccines, Szijjarto said Hungary believed the most important thing was to manufacture as many vaccines in as many places as possible.

“It is by continuously increasing vaccine production capacities that we can best protect the world from the pandemic, and less so by bureaucratic measures,” he said.

Concerning the EU’s planned vaccine passports, Szijjarto said any debate on the matter was premature as long as the bloc’s average vaccination rate was around 30 percent and many member states were struggling to build public trust in and procure vaccines.

“Let’s have enough vaccines first and let’s have people vaccinated,” he said. Hungary will oppose discrimination based on vaccines when it comes to the vaccine passports and rules on entry, he added.

Travel agreements with Mongolia, Georgia concluded

Hungary has concluded agreements on unimpeded travel with Georgia and Mongolia, to allow Hungarians holding immunity certificates to travel into those countries without having to isolate or show negative covid test results, Szijjarto said.

Similarly, Georgian and Mongolian immunity certificates will be accepted in Hungary, he said in a video on Facebook.

The agreements will come into force over the weekend, he said.

Szijjarto said bilateral talks with other countries were ongoing on the sidelines of a Brussels meeting of European Union foreign ministers on “accepting each other’s certificates and make unimpeded travel possible.”


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