UPDATE 1-Hungary has reached deal with Sinopharm on vaccine purchase -PM aide

14 Jan 2021 / 17:59 H.

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    By Anita Komuves and Krisztina Than

    Jan 14 (Reuters) - Hungary has reached a deal with China's Sinopharm to buy coronavirus vaccines developed by the company, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff said on Thursday.

    Gergely Gulyas also told a government briefing that the second wave of the pandemic has peaked in Hungary and new infections have dropped but restrictions cannot be eased yet.

    Since Nov. 11, all secondary schools have been closed, as have hotels and restaurants except for takeaway meals, a 1900 GMT curfew has been in place, and gatherings have been banned.

    Gulyas said vaccine shipments under the European Union's programme were arriving too slowly, with weekly shipments of less than 100,000 doses, and Hungary would continue talks with Russia and China about additional vaccine purchases.

    "We have practically made an agreement with Sinopharm," Gulyas said. "The first shipment could include up to one million doses."

    The timing of the Chinese shipment depends on how fast Hungarian health authorities authorize use of Sinopharm's vaccine, which has been used to immunize some 20 million people, he added.

    Hungary has received 129,860 doses and vaccinated just over 96,000 people as of Thursday using Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines, Gulyas said.

    As of Thursday, Hungary, with a total population of around 10 million, had reported 347,636 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with 11,066 deaths. Nearly 5,000 people are currently hospitalised with the disease, putting a strain on the healthcare system.

    (Reporting by Krisztina Than and Anita Komuves; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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