COVID-19: Hungary to start talks on permission for Sputnik Light

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People receive vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19),in Managua

BUDAPEST (Reuters) -Hungary's National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition will start talks with its Russian counterparts on Monday on permission to use Russia's Sputnik Light COVID-19 vaccine in Hungary, the Hungarian foreign minister said on Friday.

The minister, Peter Szijjarto, told a news conference in Russia broadcast via his Facebook page that the Sputnik Light vaccine "has had excellent results as a booster shot."

Hungary has used Sputnik V along with Western-made vaccines in its coronavirus vaccination campaign despite a lack of approval from the European Medicines Agency.

Szijjarto said Hungary aimed for "pragmatic cooperation" with Russia, which earlier this year allowed the country to purchase Sputnik-V vaccines and sign a 15-year gas purchase deal with Gazprom.

Under the agreement signed in September, Gazprom ships gas to Hungary via Serbia and Austria, rerouting shipments from Ukraine, which resulted in Kiev criticising the deal as "political."

Szijjarto also said construction of the Paks II nuclear plant could reach the implementation phase in the first half of next year as Rosatom has already submitted the documentation for the first of eight necessary permits.

The construction of the two new reactors at the plant was awarded to Rosatom in 2014 without a tender, and is often cited as an example of the warm ties between Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The construction has been seriously delayed.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than and Anita Komuves, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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