The Hungarian Government has reached a deal with Russia to purchase a “large quantity” of Russia’s Sputnik Covid-19 vaccine, the country’s Foreign Minister announced during a visit to Moscow on Friday.
“I am happy to announce that we have signed an agreement today under which Hungary can purchase a large quantity of vaccine from Russia in three tranches,” Peter Szijjarto said, adding that additional details regarding the agreement — namely specifics on when the first vaccines will be delivered — would be released later.
“It’s Hungary’s national interest to speed up vaccinations. Because of the slow arrival of vaccines so far, this is only possible if we buy effective and safe vaccines from another source,” he added.
The Hungarian government has complained about what it considers the slow arrival of vaccines approved and purchased by the European Union as a whole.
The bloc had agreed to distribute vaccines at an equal pace and on a pro rata basis, but speaking to a local radio on Friday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban blamed Brussels for the slow distribution and urged the European Medicines Agency to approve other vaccines, such as the Oxford/AstraZeneca candidate.
“Hungarians need the vaccine, not an explanation,” he said.
Some context: Orban is facing a potentially tight parliamentary elections in 2022 and his government is ramping rhetoric as it attempts to be seen as handling the coronavirus outbreak in the country well.
The country reported 1,311 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday and 98 additional deaths from the virus. A total of 356,973 have contracted the virus in the country and 11,713 have died with Covid-19.