Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban gets China's Sinopharm jab
Julia Chapman, Budapest
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban has joined thousands of his compatriots who have received Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccine this week, he announced in a Facebook post.
It makes him the first European Union leader to take the Chinese jab.
Currently, Hungary is the only EU country to be administering vaccines from China and Russia. The European Medicines Agency has not approved them yet, but Hungarian regulators gave the vaccines the green light to be distributed.
So far, 550,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine have arrived in Hungary, but a total number of 5 million are expected to be delivered by the end of May.
Orban has said the wider selection of vaccines will allow the country to inoculate more of its population faster than the rest of the EU.
He said Hungary would be the most vaccinated country in the bloc by Easter.
While some Hungarians have expressed their low confidence in the Chinese vaccine, the prime minister urged them to trust experts, saying: "You can see that I am still healthy. You shouldn't be afraid either.
"The third wave is attacking now and it will be more severe than the previous two. Please get registered and get vaccinated. This is the only possible defense."
In an interview on Friday, Orban said: "Without the Chinese and Russian vaccines, we would be in big trouble."
COVID-19 cases in the country have been on the rise and have been met with restrictions, which have been extended to mid-March to curb the spread of the virus.
Orban's optimism that the country will administer the most vaccines comes as some EU countries have had slower-than-hoped vaccination programs due to supply issues and, in some countries, skepticism over the AstraZeneca vaccine.