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Coronavirus

Hungary to Donate 500K Vaccines to Central and Southeast European Countries

BUDAPEST — Hungary will donate half a million COVID-19 vaccines to other countries in Central and Southeast Europe as its vaccination drive slows and supplies pile up.

An early vaccination leader in the European Union, Hungary has struggled in recent weeks to use up its available stocks of vaccines. With 67% of its adult population having received at least a first dose, until recently Hungary had the second-highest vaccination rate in the 27-member EU.

But other European countries like Belgium and Finland have since caught up as most Hungarians who want a vaccine have already received one. While a daily average of 60,000 first-dose shots were being given in mid-May, on Tuesday that number was scarcely over 9,000.

Speaking to reporters in Poland on Monday, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that Hungary would provide Bosnia and Montenegro with 200,000 doses each of the Chinese-manufactured Sinopharm vaccine, noting that the jab has been approved for emergency use in both countries.

“The more protected our neighbors are, the safer Hungary will be from a health perspective,” Szijjarto said.

The foreign minister said on Sunday that Hungary would donate 100,000 doses of an unspecified vaccine to the Czech Republic, since “there is plenty of vaccine available so the Hungarian government can help those who are less well off.”

Hungary — the only EU country to approve the Sinopharm vaccine — purchased 5 million doses of the jab, contributing to the early surge in its vaccination program.

But according to figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, more than 3.1 million of the country’s Sinopharm doses remain unused.

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