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Orban Aide Says Hungary Won't Use Russia's Sputnik-V Vaccine


Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are unloaded at Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport on December 30.

A senior aide to Prime Minister Viktor Orban says Hungary won't use Russia's Sputnik-V vaccine despite bilateral cooperation on Russian testing of the controversial serum against COVID-19.

Orban chief of staff Gergely Gulyas blamed the reversal on an "inadequate manufacturing capacity" for the vaccine in Russia.

It is the first clear sign that the Russian serum won't be broadly used on Hungary's general population of around 10 million.

Sputnik-V received Russian approval two months ago, despite a lack of large-scale clinical trials and perceived shortcomings in data to support its safety and efficacy.

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Russians are already being inoculated en masse with it.

Gulyas said mass vaccine purchases by Hungary would have to be "part of the EU process or from China."

Orban has refused to rule out any path to securing supplies of any vaccine.

Orban has come under criticism over perceived democratic backsliding in EU-member Hungary as he has deepened bilateral ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has viewed Sputnik-V as a national prestige project.

Some 50 countries have reportedly placed orders for Sputnik-V, with national testing ongoing in some of them.

Regulators in Europe and North American have so far given emergency authorizations to a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and a Moderna vaccine.

Britain this week became the first country to approve an AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine.

China has been slower than some countries to approve COVID-19 vaccines but has been inoculating its citizens for months with three different shots in late-stage trials.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP
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