The first shipment of up to 1 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine “only depends on the speed of Hungary’s licensing”, Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff, told a government press briefing.
So far, 129,860 vaccine doses have arrived from the EU, and 91,600 people have received their shots, while the government has reserved 19.7 million doses via EU channels, Gulyás said. He added that Britain, Israel and China had been “more successful” in producing or obtaining the vaccine than the EU.
Gulyás said that the pandemic was being reined in, but warned that it could pick up again if restrictions were not observed. Restrictions could only be eased if the number of active infections is “significantly” lower or vaccination of the population is high enough to guarantee that the most vulnerable can no longer be infected, he said, adding that around 90,000 more people died in 2020 than a year earlier, and the deaths were Covid-related.
In response to a question concerning whether Hungary had ordered any of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine which proved to be only 50% effective in Brazil, he said no orders had been placed but negotiations were ongoing with a broad range of suppliers. He said that among the Chinese vaccines, most likely Sinopharm would be purchased, which is reported to be around 80% effective — and even possibly above 90%, according to some sources.
In response to a question concerning what people should expect when planning their spring and summer holidays, he said, realistically, holidays should not be planned before the summer period, but if Hungary manages to acquire vaccines from sources outside the EU, and current regulations continue to be respected, then a relaxation of restrictions may be possible earlier than the summer.
He said the government is in talks with representatives of various economic sectors on ways to reduce the damage caused by the epidemic. The tourism agency is currently in talks with gym owners, and it is open to consultations with festival organisers, he said, adding however that it was currently difficult to make responsible projections concerning summer festivals.
Meanwhile, Gulyás said vaccination certificates would most probably guarantee a number of sensible benefits throughout Europe, such as exemption from quarantine in connection with air travel. The Hungarian government will wait and see whether uniform European regulations are introduced and will create national rules based on those, he said.
In response to a question about when private companies would be allowed to purchase vaccines — and asked to comment on a report that a company had promised vaccination for a 5,000 forint registration fee — he said that for the time being states were getting exclusive access to the vaccine. If any private company offers a coronavirus vaccine, it is most probably a “fake”, he said, and advised people aware of such advertisements to report them to the police.