A family doctor administers a dose of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine to a man in Nagykata, Hungary on Feb. 24, 2021. (Tibor Illyes/MTI via Xinhua)
BUDAPEST, March 1 (Xinhua) — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban received an injection of China’s Sinopharm vaccine against COVID-19 on Sunday as the country was gearing up against the third wave of the pandemic.
Orban said he was feeling “in great shape” after he got the shot. Hungarian President Janos Ader also opted for the Chinese vaccine just two days ago.
As the Hungarian government is boosting its vaccination program with Russian and Chinese vaccines, the prime minister urged Hungarians to follow his example.
“Please, I ask all of you to register and get yourself vaccinated. It is the only protection available. Just as in Serbia, where tens of thousands of ethnic Hungarians received this Chinese vaccine, now thousands of Hungarians have also received it,” he said.
The third wave of the pandemic has brought daily infections and deaths in the country to the level of mid-December last year.
Hungary on Monday registered 4,326 new cases and 84 more deaths in the past 24 hours, raising its national total to 432,925 and the death toll to 15,058, according to official data.
So far, 322,956 people have recovered, while 5,679 patients are currently treated in hospitals, including 537 on ventilators, figures from the government’s coronavirus information website showed.
As of Monday, 685,247 people have received at least one vaccine jab, while 251,691 have received two, according to the website.
Hungary intends to inoculate all of the 2.6 million people who have registered for the vaccine by Easter, and Orban aims to vaccinate a further million by May.
“With the exception of one shipment from China, Hungary has never received such a great amount of vaccine at one time as carried by the two trucks that left Moscow for Hungary at dawn on Monday,” Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto said on his Facebook page Monday morning.
With access to vaccines from five producers, namely Sinopharm, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Sputnik V, Hungary, the first European Union member state to buy and authorize the use of Chinese vaccines, started to administer the Sinopharm vaccine on Feb. 24.
After the arrival of the first batch of Chinese vaccines on Feb. 16, Szijjarto expected another batch from China in March.
Encouraging everyone who was offered to get vaccinated, Hungarian Chief Medical Officer Cecilia Muller said at a press conference on Monday that if infections further increase, “further restrictive measures cannot be ruled out.”