Hungary bets on Chinese vaccine, delays opening

Photo: EPA

Hungary does not plan to start easing restrictions although vaccinations are speeding up, PM Viktor Orban said as the country started on Wednesday inoculating people with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, news wires reported.

"This is an important day as we begin inoculations with the Chinese vaccines," Orban said in a video on his Facebook page. "This also gives me hope that those in charge of the defence effort can also get in line perhaps next week." It was not immediately clear whether this meant Orban or any of his cabinet would be vaccinated next week.

With the move Hungary became the first EU country  to start inoculating people with the Sinopharm vaccine, following a similar move with Russia's Sputnik V shot. Both have not been granted regulatory approval in the EU so far.

"The situation is not easy as we have the good news that many vaccines have arrived and the number of people inoculated will increase. However, the third wave is threatening Hungary. We cannot yet speak of any easing (of restrictions)," Orban said, apparently walking back on a tentative timetable unveiled early this month, which projected decisions about easing as soon as 1 March, with a view to reopening around Easter.

As of Wednesday, Hungary had reported 410,129 cases with 14,552 deaths. Some 471,000 people have been vaccinated, representing nearly 5% of Hungary's population based on a government tally.

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