Hungary’s Viktor Orban urges EU to approve more vaccines

Budapest authorised Russian and Chinese shots before EU

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called on the EU to authorise Covid vaccines that have been shown to be safe and effective elsewhere, in order to boost the bloc's inoculation efforts.

Hungary has one of the EU’s highest vaccination rates after it accepted shots developed in Russia and China before the European Medicines Agency approved them.

Serbia, which is not in the EU, has also administered many more shots than the EU average.

The EMA has approved the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines. It is reviewing the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, but not the two made by China’s Sinopharm.

Hungary had vaccinated 4.2 million of its 10 million people as of Friday, including 2.4 million with both doses of the five vaccines it has used.

"I will propose that in all of Europe we accept all vaccines that prove useful and safe, and accelerate vaccinations,” Mr Orban said on Friday.

But Hungary also has suffered the most Covid-19 deaths per capita, with more than 28,000 fatalities recorded.

"We have lessons to share as Hungary has reopened almost completely," Mr Orban said. "Hungarians have their freedom back, while in many European countries that is not the case."

The EU, which is in charge of procuring vaccines and distributing them to member states, has been criticised for the slow start to its inoculation campaign.