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Hungary today became the EU’s first member to approve the vaccine, sealing a deal for 5m doses just a week after also becoming the first member member of the bloc to buy Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

Prime minister Viktor Orban, whose nationalist government often goes against the consensus of its EU neighbours, said he would personally opt to receive the Chinese vaccine, as he trusted it more than others.

On Wednesday, Hungary’s government issued a decree calling for any vaccine that had been administered to at least 1 million people elsewhere in the world to be given emergency approval.

Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said on his Facebook page that the Sinopharm vaccines would be delivered in four batches over four months. The 5m doses would enable Hungary to inoculate 2.5 million people, about a quarter of its population, he said.

However, the Hungarian Medical Chamber (MOK) said Budapest should continue “to follow drug safety rules in a transparent manner and only approve marketing of products after a review respecting European Medicines Agency rules”.

In Hungary, which has close to 10 million people, 364,909 people have been infected and 12,374 people have died of Covid-19 so far.

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