Hungary’s vaccine self-sufficiency

  • December 19, 2021
  • István

An alternative title could be “we never need the EU, except in cases we need the EU.” It is already more than a year ago that all member states decided to delegate the purchase of Sars-Cov-2 vaccines to the EU for not competing against each other. According to Orbán the greatest product on earth was developed by a Hungarian “asszonyság,” Katalin Karikó, working with German BioNTech. I think we all remember that in the early days vaccine production was not possible at high numbers and production lines and even entire plants were still to be opened. So EU bashing was the next policy of the Hungarian regime. Because this didn’t help against the terrible situation Orbán decided not to fight the spread of the virus at home, but to buy a Russian vaccine, just that also the production there didn’t offer enough capacities. And because “his” own authorities were critical during the approval our PM decided to change the law and every vaccine may be used in Hungary that has approval in 3 countries, where among at least one EU member or candidate. This opened the doors for the Chinese vaccine that not even was tested for the group of elderly persons it was administrated the most. For this vaccine, according to Orbán – again – the greatest on earth, was not even applied an EMA (European Medicines Agency) approval. As Orbán said those days: “a serious country, and Hungary is one, cannot afford to have to push door-handles [going from door to door and beg] for vaccines during such an epidemic.” So he went from country to country instead.

But the dream of Orbán remained producing a Hungarian vaccine in Debrecen. He could have asked whether Hungary may build a line together with BioNTech, but all earlier praise of Katalin Karikó did not help to let him ask for a licence or co-operation. In the meanwhile it became clear that the Russian and Chinese products did not get EMA approval and in many EU countries this lead to serious problems for Hungarian citizens travelling if vaccinated with not approved vaccines. That Sinopharm had no effect at all with a significant share of the population above 60 years didn’t help either to promote these vaccines.

On May 20th, 2021 Gergely Gulyás declared that Hungary wouldn’t take part in common European vaccine purchases any more. The supply of vaccine would be that good in Hungary. So good that in the meanwhile 200 000 doses Sputnik V were destroyed due to expiry of the shelf life. The purchase price for them was about 600 million Forint (1.6 million Euro,) the costs for disposal are not known. A few days ago broke the news what should be produced in Debrecen. No, it is not Sputnik, and it isn’t Sinopharm either, although foreign minister Szijjártó announced so in June. Last Wednesday, December 15th was proclaimed: It will be a protein-based vaccine. None of EMA approved vaccines are protein-based, Novavax could become the first. But if our National Vaccine Factory will get a licence? Karikó just received the Bolyai price for her break-through on mRNA research, but for becoming “self-sufficient” the result of her research is not good enough – while Hungarians already decided which vaccine they want.

And on Friday Portfolio wrote that Hungary would re-join the EU purchase program. According to this article the start of deliveries from Debrecen will take another year if not longer. The same day the number of deaths caused in Hungary by the virus reached 37 530, since the situation is “that great” we don’t get any more data during the weekends. 1101 deceased Hungarians last week were not enough for Orbán to allow publishing these data daily. A long time was wasted – again – for playing silly games with the EU and enormous amounts of our money was wasted before our government did the only sensible thing, a thing none of our 26 partners in the EU ever questioned. If the same energy, time, and money would have been put into saving lives and health it would have been well spent.

The day France closes the borders to the UK to keep Omicron out, the Netherlands go into a shut-down, and Austria introduces new rules to enter the country, our glorious government in Hungary will take the usual measures: NONE.

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December 19, 2021 13:14

“The day France closes the borders to the UK to keep Omicron out, the Netherlands go into a shut-down, and Austria introduces new rules to enter the country, our glorious government in Hungary will take the usual measures: NONE.”

What is important to Hungary’s government is to emphasize that they know better than the EU. Even a fatal pandemic is treated as an opportunity for propaganda posturing, no need for opinions from virologists and the medical profession here when we have “the fount of all knowledge” to protect us from the outside world…

Don Kichote
Don Kichote
December 19, 2021 14:01

Novavax has developed a protein-based Corona vaccine and has applied to the EMA for approval. I once googled “vaccine manufactured in Hungary” and had 0 hits. Is there even a vaccine developed by Hungary? A Trumpian idea would be to inject palika instead of bleach and that would still-be better than introducing a neon tube with UV radiation. The advantage with mRNA vaccines is a relatively fast adaptation of the vaccine.

December 20, 2021 10:21
Reply to  Don Kichote

The, probably soon EMA approved, Novavax vaccine is produced in the V4…
Not in OV’s Hungary, but in Czechia somewhere near Prague. In the summer of last year Novavax [US] purchased Praha Vaccines [CZ] for production of their then under development being protein based vaccine [similar technology as used for Hepatitis B vaccines]
Now especially Czech politicians are hoping for “swift approval”

December 20, 2021 10:43
Reply to  Ferenc

In 2021.August the EU Commission approved the contract with Novavax for 100M + option 100M doses of the vaccine.

PS1: don’t know of OV&Co joined in…
or could they try to pretend it’s HU made…

PS2: Istvan, any possibility for the edit function?

December 19, 2021 15:09

I guess what Hungarians can expect from a Fidesz-lead Hungarian-made vaccine is more corruption and no results…

Thanks for the post, István! 👍

December 19, 2021 17:41

What good is a vaccine produced in Hungary if people won’t use it?
It will only make a few oligarchs even richer.
I still haven’t found an explanation for these facts
– percentage of vaccinated people in Hungary is lower
– mortality is two or even three times as high as in neighbouring countries.
Shouldn’t the government do something there?
Wait, that takes money which Fidesz prefers to “export” to Spain eg …

December 19, 2021 18:59
Reply to  wolfi7777

my explantion: not enough testing
Basically testing is hindered by OV’s team, while elsewhere in the EU testing is free, no need for approval/stamp by the general practitioner, people can make direct testing appointment when symptoms or been in contact with positive tested persons.
OV’s lousy testing concept, causes
1.the virus to spread more easily and
2.infected people are found later on in the infection,
both resulting in more severe cases, with of course more severe consequences [deaths!]

so one of the highest Covid deaths/cases rate worldwide
and one of the highest Covid deaths/1M population

all thanks to the killer in the “kolostor”

December 20, 2021 17:30
Reply to  Ferenc

Some countries no longer test for free in order to “encourage” people to get vaccinated (i.e. France). Sure, anyone suspected to have Covid can still get tested for free but convenience tests to get a Covid Certificate while not being vaccinated are charged.

Istvan (Chicago)
Istvan (Chicago)
December 19, 2021 18:27

Here in the USA we are in a state of chaos relating to breakthrough infections, relating to both the Omicron variant and the Delta variants. Our oldest daughter (not the one who is a US Army officer) tested positive and is quarantined in a bed room and separate bathroom in our large 1888 victorian home in Chicago. She was fully vaccinated with the BioNTech vaccine, but she was not eligible for a booster yet. Her symptoms have been mild, and I have tested negative for any infection using a rapid test and exhibit no symptoms as is the situation with my wife who is also waiting her PCR results. The PCR tests have not returned and the labs are simply over whelmed right now, normally the PCR results come back in at most 72 hours, but all bets are off right now to be honest. We are all quarantined in our home, but public health officials have not made contact even with our daughter for contact tracing and she has actually personally reached out to people she may have had contact with because public health officials at both the State level, County level, and City level have never returned her messages and many phone calls. My wife and I are fully vaccinated with booster shots and wear masks when even near the room our daughter is staying in. We have stock plied food and over the counter medicine in our house as if we are expecting a nuclear attack.

The local City government in Chicago, run by a Democrat Lori Lightfoot, is not yet shutting down restaurants and bars, or for that matter night clubs or large concerts. The public school system here is attempting to continue in person learning, but Covid infections are becoming more rampant and a few schools have closed to in person learning to both a lack of staff and students. Each day brings new discussions in the media of the lack of effectiveness of even the BioNTech vaccine. The mass line now in the media here is based on South African analysis the BioNTech vaccine is only about 33 to 35 percent effective against the Omicron variant, but 70% protection against hospitalization for most people. But for those with preexisting health conditions there is really no clear data as yet. In the county Chicago is in 92 percent of those dead from Covid since the start of the pandemic had one or more comorbidities relating to medical conditions. In Chicago’s poorest communities 40% of men have identified medical conditions and 50% of the women.

We also have no clear data as yet on how long the BioNTech booster shots will provide even the level of protection assumed for the general population. No country right now has an effective vaccine system, we have all seen the deterioration of the situation in many EU nations and the UK. I believe the situation will eventually be even worse in the USA. The political fear of lock downs here is immense on the part of both Democrats and Republicans, so the governmental response to all of this is at best hesitant. I wish you all the best in Hungary.

December 19, 2021 19:22

All the best for you all Istvan! Hope your daughter tests negative soon!
I’m happy that Tuesday will be the last schoolday for my daughter. There are kids in her gimnázium tested positive regularly. The non-vaccinated classmates are sent home then immediately, and have to stay quarantined for a week. The vaccinated can stay and follow school like normal. About half of my daughters class is vaccinated. No special measures are in sight yet here in Hungary. What the situation will be after Christmas: I expect an explosion of corona cases.

December 19, 2021 18:57

Istvan, wish you and your family, especially your daughter all the very best!
From experience with our neighbour and her son I’m sure that the symptoms for her after having been vaccinated won’t be too bad and the probability that others in your family get Covid is rather low.
Probably the worst case scenario are light symptoms for you and your wife, comparable to an influenza.
But of course for all those loonies who think that the vaccines aren’t necessary for them or even Satan’s work bad times are ahead

December 19, 2021 21:08

Hope things go well for your daughter and family, Istvan Chicago. Here in London, things start to feel uncertain again. Boris can’t work out should he please the right wing of his party or listen to experts. Awaiting the next Lockdown!

Istvan (Chicago)
Istvan (Chicago)
December 20, 2021 00:03 this facebook video from Márki-Zay who is video captured in a hospital bed due to fracture in his left hands that required surgery. The optics of it were very bad and I doubt any American PR consultant for a presidential candidate would have allowed it to happen. I have to assume he was receiving some type of pain medication at the time. Basically spoke about the poll covered in detail by which was allegedly ordered by the opposition itself that showed the great polling advantage by Fidesz relative to the opposition. Márki-Zay said in the video this was unfounded and that the preparation and leaking of the research which he said “aroused serious suspicion”, and was in Fidesz’s interest and he said it showed that “the enemy has set foot in our headquarters as well.”

This type of claim coming from a guy possibly on paid killers in a hospital bed I think is a problem and Magyar Nemzet enjoyed it very much.

Istvan (Chicago)
Istvan (Chicago)
December 20, 2021 15:59
Reply to  István

It would not be unreasonable to say that has doubled down on its story relating to the opposition poll, as yet unpublished, that reportedly states Fidesz has strengthened significantly since the pre-election period since Péter Márki-Zay basically declared it to be part of a Fidesz operation inside of the opposition itself from his hospital bed. (See

One part of the article that reflects some high level of dysfunction within the opposition coalition is that it is having real difficultly reaching decisions on relatively less than complex issues, like even its campaign logo as is reflected in this passage: “It’s been so hard that for three weeks now, many people thought they’d be showing the name of the opposition alliance in the campaign and the campaign colors within days. There will be no separate logo, because the party logo can only be displayed on the ballot papers anyway, so in the end the common symbol was abandoned, but some name (Democrats? Cooperation?) And design is being made, it has just not been decided yet. The stalemate is shown by the fact that two parties also planned a leaflet campaign for their own individual candidates in early December, but they spoke from the joint campaign center to wait for it to have a joint design – but it didn’t come out, so this year’s leaflets were missed.” (my translation)

Now if this is all a Fidesz planted operation, then maybe the author of the article Péter Magyari is a Fidesz agent too or he has just been easily fooled, if so Márki-Zay needs to provide some evidence of some kind. Péter Magyari and his work at was presented by Eva on the Hungarian Spectrum site as credible as recently as November 2, 2021 when she cited some of his reporting. I am personally finding this sort of quickly tossed out claim by Márki-Zay disturbing, putting him unfortunately on the same level as some Fidesz propagandists who most progressive Hungarians are simply sick of. 

I agree that the dramatic polling change in this secret polling data raises many questions. But it is also obvious that Márki-Zay has seen this poll commissioned by what is called apparently now the “united campaign center.” Given that Márki-Zay should be able to say who the suspected Fidesz agents are inside the paid polling consultants.

December 20, 2021 11:24

“And on Friday [Dec.17] Portfolio wrote that Hungary would re-join the EU purchase program.”
Fresh news, Dec.19:
“EU Commission European Commission ensures another acceleration of deliveries of vaccine doses to Member States”
basically +20M Pfizer in 2022.Q1

the question: coincidence or connection?