BUDAPEST — The first shipment of a COVID-19 vaccine developed in China will arrive Tuesday in Hungary, the first country in the European Union to approve the Chinese vacccine.
In a video on Facebook on Monday, State Secretary Tamas Menczer said 550,000 doses of the vaccine developed by Chinese state-owned company Sinopharm will be transported by jet from Beijing, enough to treat 275,000 people with two doses each. The first shipment will undergo testing by the National Public Health Center before inoculations begin, Menczer said.
Hungary earlier broke with the EU’s common vaccine procurement program by approving the vaccine on Jan. 29, and has purchased 5 million doses. Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, has said he would choose to take the Sinopharm jab himself.
The vaccine’s developer says it is nearly 80% effective, but has not yet released stage 3 clinical trial data. Around 30 million people worldwide have received the Sinopharm vaccine, including half a million ethnic Hungarians in Serbia, Hungary’s non-EU neighbor to the south, Menczer said. Hungary has also approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and began administering it in hospitals in the capital of Budapest last week.