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Hungary becomes the first country in the EU to approve a COVID-19 vaccine from China

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Hungary is rolling out several different vaccines, including from Pfizer-BioNTech (pictured)
Hungary is rolling out several different vaccines, including from Pfizer-BioNTech (pictured)   -   Copyright  Marton Monus/MTVA/AP
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Hungary has become the first EU member state to approve a Chinese coronavirus vaccine.

The country's National Institute of Pharmacy said on Friday it had granted temporary authorisation to Sinopharm, one of two main vaccines developed in China.

The announcement came after Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he trusted the Chinese vaccine the most.

"I will wait my turn and when the time comes, I will choose the Chinese vaccine," he said in his weekly radio interview.

"The Chinese have the longest experience with this virus, so they are probably the best informed."

It means Hungary continues to diverge from the EU, where the European Medicines Agency has so far only approved vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

Last week Hungarian authorities granted a six-month authorisation to Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

The government says its strategy is to immunise the population by deploying as many different inoculations as possible.

Officials are also preparing a decree that would approve any vaccine that has already been received by over a million people worldwide.

Hungarians are historically among the most reluctant Europeans towards vaccines, although interest has increased since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Sinopharm raised concerns among some observers after it published interim results in December showing it had a 79% efficacy rate, lower than vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.