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Chinese vaccine arrives in first European Union nation

Chinese vaccine arrives in first European Union nation
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Hungary on Tuesday became the first European Union nation to receive a shipment of Chinese-manufactured coronavirus vaccines with the arrival of more than half a million doses. 

The Associated Press reported that a jet with 550,000 doses of the vaccine developed by China’s state-owned manufacturer Sinopharm arrived in Budapest on Tuesday. 

Agnes Galgoczy of Hungary’s National Public Health Center said at a press conference that the shipment from Beijing will enable the European country to vaccinate approximately 275,000 people. 

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“With this vaccine, five different types are now available in Hungary so that we may get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Galgoczy added, according to the AP. However, the health official noted that the distribution will only begin once the doses are evaluated by the public health agency. 

The AP reported that the shipment is the first batch of the 5 million total Sinopharm vaccine doses that Hungary is expected to receive over the next four months, allowing for 2.5 million people across the country to be vaccinated. 

As of Tuesday, there have been more than 389,000 coronavirus infections in Hungary, with nearly 14,000 dead as a result of the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University

Hungary late last month approved the Sinopharm inoculation for emergency use as part of a new process that allows vaccines to be administered in the European country without undergoing official review so long as the treatment has been administered to at least 1 million people around the world. 

Sinopharm has said that its vaccine is approximately 80 percent effective. The candidate is already being administered in Hungary’s neighboring Serbia, which is not part of the EU. 

While the Chinese vaccine has also been distributed to several other countries, the accuracy of the company’s reported efficacy rate has come under question. Sinopharm has not yet released data on the vaccine’s stage three trials, according to the AP. 

Sinopharm’s vaccine is one of three from Chinese firms to hit the market, along with inoculations developed by Sinovac and CanSino. A multination study released earlier this month found the CanSino vaccine to be 65.7 percent effective at preventing symptomatic coronavirus cases. 

The Chinese government also announced at the start of February that it was planning on delivering 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to developing nations around the world as part of the World Health Organization's COVAX program.