Hungary to start using Russian virus vaccine in EU first
Hungary will on Friday become the first EU nation to start using Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus, the country's chief medical officer said.
"Today we are beginning to vaccinate with the Sputnik V vaccine, this is taking place in the designated vaccination stations," Cecilia Muller told a daily press briefing.
Hungary broke ranks with the EU last month by becoming the first bloc member to approve Sputnik V, ordering two million doses to be delivered over three months, enough to inoculate one million people.
Hungary has often clashed with Brussels, especially on migration, and repeatedly criticised what it says is the slow pace of vaccine approval and procurement by EU authorities.
Last month Budapest also approved the Chinese-made Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine -- again the first in the EU to do so -- and said it had ordered five million doses.
"If Hungary begins using the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine in the near future, more than 2.5 million people can be inoculated by Easter," said Prime Minister Viktor Orban on state radio Friday.
"Each day we spend waiting around for Brussels, we would lose one hundred Hungarian lives," he said.
Russia registered Sputnik V -- named after the Soviet-era satellite -- in August, months ahead of Western competitors but before the start of large-scale clinical trials, which left some experts wary.
However, the vaccine is 91.6 percent effective against Covid-19, according to results published in The Lancet journal that experts said allayed transparency concerns over the jab.