BUDAPEST－Hungary has become the first country in the European Union to adopt Chinese COVID-19 vaccines for inoculation, which will allow the vaccination of 2.5 million people, says Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Peter Szijjarto.
He made the announcement on his Facebook page following a phone call with the Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi.
“The delivery will take place in four stages over four months,” said Szijjarto, adding that a contract had been signed with Sinopharm of China on Friday.
“This deal will speed up vaccination, which could save the lives of thousands of people and contribute to lifting restrictions sooner.”
Earlier on Friday, Hungary’s Chief Medical Officer Cecilia Muller announced that Hungary, whose population is 9.7 million, had authorized the use of the Sinopharm vaccine.
Sinopharm has been approved in several countries, including Serbia, an EU candidate state.
Pakistan’s Planning and Development Asad Umar said on Saturday that an aircraft was being sent to China to bring the first tranche of 500,000 doses of Sinopharm’s vaccine, enough to inoculate 250,000 out of 400,000 health workers.
The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan approved the Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use as the number of coronavirus infections in the country continued to surge. The country has also secured 17 million doses of vaccine from AstraZeneca.
A Turkish Airlines plane carrying 3.5 million doses of the vaccine landed at Istanbul Airport early in the morning.
The mass vaccination program in the country started on Jan 14 after the delivery of the first batch of 3 million doses from China at the end of December.
China had pledged that it would share its vaccines with the world, and signed an agreement with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization on its participation in the COVAX facility in October.
COVAX plans to ship enough COVID-19 shots to cover about 3percent of the populations of low-income countries in the first half of this year, a World Health Organization official said on Friday.
Diah Saminarsih, a senior adviser to the director-general of the WHO, said that the 92 countries were likely to receive enough vaccines for 3 percent of their populations by the end of June.
“That’s our commitment. It seems impossible for the WHO to go back on their promise.”
The WHO is reviewing 11 vaccines for emergency use, she said. Some poorer countries with limited regulatory capacity rely on WHO authorizations to proceed with vaccinations.
It plans to approve several vaccines from Western and Chinese developers in coming weeks, a document published last week showed, as it aims for rapid distribution in poorer countries.
Within this facility, many countries have been active in getting doses for their citizens.
On Friday the European Union announced that the Oxford-Astra-Zeneca vaccine had been approved for use on all adults.
The announcement after a green light from the European Medicines Agency marks the third vaccine approved for use in the EU, following those made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
Agencies – Xinhua