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27 Nov, 2021 21:15

Hungary slams EU for ‘political’ refusal to recognize Russian Covid-19 vaccine

Hungary slams EU for ‘political’ refusal to recognize Russian Covid-19 vaccine

Hungarian FM Peter Szijjarto told RT he’s “frustrated” with Western officials playing politics with Russia’s Sputnik V, the world’s first Covid vaccine. He says they can’t bring themselves to publicly admit it’s “the best.”

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Janssen, yet Russia’s Sputnik V is still awaiting the agency’s nod despite getting approval in over 70 countries worldwide. For Hungarians vaccinated with Sputnik V, that means they’re frozen out of the EU’s bloc-wide Digital Covid Certificate system, even though Hungary will start locally producing the vaccine next year.

“This is a political and ideological issue and I am very frustrated about this,” Szijjarto told RT, describing how under EU regulations, either the EMA or national governments can approve vaccines, as Hungary’s government did with Sputnik V and China’s Sinopharm shot. “We don’t understand why [this approval] is not respected by the other member states,” he added.

The EU’s cold shoulder for the Sputnik V shot is more a question of politics than efficacy, Szijjarto suggested.

Whenever I talk to Western European colleagues... they always tell me that they know that Russian scientific performance can be spoken about only very highly,” he said. “I tell them ‘Look, it works the best. Of course it works well.”

Privately they all say that… when it comes to publicly, they all say differently.

“I hoped for the conflicts to be left behind. And I hope for countries’ understanding that we need to cooperate on the issues like saving the lives of people. But, unfortunately, I have to be disappointed because this is not the case,” the minister said.

Szijjarto added that the timely arrival of Sputnik V and the Chinese vaccine made by Sinopharm had helped the Hungarian economy reach pre-pandemic level by the summer.

“At the beginning – I mean [during] the first part of this year – the deliveries from Western producers were [at times] late. They were cancelled even sometimes, or the volume was less compared to what was contracted,” Szijjarto said.

The fact that both Sinopharm and Sputnik delivered additional volumes [on time] compared to others, gave us a huge advantage. We could reopen the country and the national economy around two months earlier than the European average.

Phase 3 trial data showing the efficacy of Sputnik V has been published in the authoritative medical journal, The Lancet, while a comparative study based on data from Hungary and published this week found the Russian jab to be the most effective of five different vaccines in preventing Covid-related deaths. Sputnik V came in second behind the US-made Moderna shot in preventing infection in the first place. The study was based on data from 3.7 million people.

When it came to choosing his own vaccine, Szijjarto turned to the Russian-developed jab. “The reason for my vaccination with Sputnik is crystal clear,” he told RT. “When I was a kid, I was vaccinated by Soviet vaccines. Since I am still alive and doing well, I decided, why should I change?”

Szijjarto went on to talk more about the politicization of vaccination, and had some choice words for the European politicians and bureaucrats who “attacked” Hungary over its hardline immigration policies.

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