Hungary’s Vaccine Website Crashes Amid Clamor for Pfizer Shot

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Hungary’s vaccine registration website crashed after the government allowed the general public to register for a Pfizer coronavirus shot for one day only.

Authorities blamed “irresponsible people” for the crash, saying the site had come under attack. But in Hungary’s major cities, people stood in lines -- some almost a kilometer-long -- outside of vaccine centers on Friday as they sought to get Pfizer doses, local media reported.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has touted vaccines from China and Russia as being more effective than western shots. The country broke ranks with its European Union peers and was first to purchase and administer the Sinopharm and Sputnik V injections, which still haven’t been authorized by the EU’s drug regulator.

The purchases of the Chinese and Russian doses helped Hungary, which has had the world’s highest coronavirus death rate, accelerate its immunization program when EU-brokered western shots were slow to arrive. Hungary has given 40% of its population at least one dose of a vaccine, the second-highest level in the EU after Malta.

The government stepped up its campaign on Monday by allowing Hungarians to register online. Initially, people could only do so for Sinopharm vaccines but authorities have since added AstraZeneca shots. Pfizer’s version won’t be available again for weeks, as they’ll be reserved inoculating of 16 to 18 year olds, Orban told state radio on Friday.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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