The covid-19 vaccination in HungaryThe coronavirus infection rate is dropping rapidly throughout Hungary thanks to a steadily increasing rate of COVID-19 vaccination. From a peak of around 10,000 daily new cases in March 2021, as of June Hungary sees fewer than 200 daily new cases.

In May, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff Gergely Gulyas announced that Hungary will not join the new vaccination deal. As part of the deal, Pfizer and BioNTech will provide an additional 2.6 billion doses throughout the European Union (EU). Hungary is the only EU country that has opted out of the deal.

According to Gulyas, the Hungarian government is confident in its current supply. Gulyas stated that in the event a booster becomes necessary, “there are plenty of vaccines from Eastern and Western sources as well.”  Orban used his strong ties with Russia and China to purchase and deploy vaccines from those countries even before the EU approved them.

Vaccination Campaign Successes

Since January, almost half of Hungarians have received their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. As a result, infection rates have declined rapidly across the country. Compared to the rest of the EU, Hungary had a relatively low infection rate throughout the pandemic.  Hungary peaked at about 10,000 new cases per day. In the first week of July, there was an average of 41 new infections reported per day. That’s less than one percent of the daily average during the country’s peak on March 25. Furthermore, the country has seen fewer than one million COVID-19 cases overall.

Hungary has also expanded vaccine eligibility quickly. It is the first EU country to approve vaccination for citizens as young as 16, who are eligible to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech doses. Around 90,000 young people have already registered for the shot, accompanied by parental permission for those under 18. Euronews reported that “according to government plans, by mid-June, all Hungarians willing to get a Western-developed jab can be vaccinated.” Hungary is hoping to be able to vaccinate children as young as age six which would mean virtually all schoolchildren by early fall when school starts.

Low-Income Families and Vaccination

The percentage of Hungarians at risk of poverty has declined steadily in recent years, dropping around 3% from 2013 to 2020.  Hungary’s at-risk poverty rate was 12.3 % in 2020.  COVID-19 has been harsher on the at-risk population, especially the Roma population living in poor settlements.  The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), a human rights non-governmental organization (NGO) advocates for targeted measures to protect the Roma from COVID.  HCLU claims that the Hungarian government has overlooked the fact that the Roma have been more vulnerable to COVID’s economic consequences because they lack any financial reserves and rely on day-to-day odd jobs.

A Promising Start

With half of Hungarians vaccinated and many more eligible, working life is returning to normal, allowing the economy to thrive. As low-income citizens including the Roma get vaccinated, they will be able to return to work without fear of illness. Also, fewer people will lose their jobs due to business closures. This successful COVID-19 vaccination campaign is leading Hungary toward a safe return to life as it used to be. Furthermore, the government is confident that its current supply of vaccine doses can sustain the campaign’s success.

– Riley Prillwitz
Photo: Unsplash

Hungarian COVID-19 Vaccination SuccessCOVID-19 is an infectious disease that emerged in late 2019 after China reported several cases. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Due to unknown characteristics and a large cluster of community transmission of the infection, many countries across the globe struggled to cope with it. Like many other countries worldwide, COVID-19 negatively impacted Hungary. However, the Hungarian COVID-19 vaccination program has seen success.

COVID-19 in Hungary

From January 3, 2020 to May 28, 2021, Hungary registered more than 803,000 confirmed cases. In total, Hungarian authorities registered and reported 29,597 deaths and most of those cases were in the capital city of Budapest. Reports indicated a significant number of cases in Hungary on March 26, 2021, with 11,265 new cases.

State of Emergency in Hungary

Due to the high numbers of COVID-19 cases on March 11, 2020, the Hungarian government declared a state of emergency. During a press conference, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyas said that Hungary may enforce the state of emergency for several months. However, on June 16, 2020, The National Assembly of Hungary canceled the state of emergency. At the same time, the country has strictly controlled the travel and entry restrictions to Hungary. Between March 8 and April 6, 2021, the government of Hungary announced new strict lockdown measures to slow the transmission of COVID-19. During the lockdown, all shops and services closed except food stores, pharmacies and petrol stations. Despite the high number of new infections since April 7, the Hungarian government announced that it would ease the lockdown. The main reason for it is the economic situation of the citizens of Hungary.

Hungarian COVID-19 Vaccination Success

As of April 8, 2021, Hungary vaccinated more than 2.6 million people. For context, the total population of Hungary is more than 9.6 million people. Hungary already provided more than 20% of its population with at least a first dose of a vaccine and more than 1 million people (11% of the population) with their second dose. To compare, the average vaccination rate among 27 E.U. member states was 12.3%.

At the same time, it is important to mention that the Hungarian government approved vaccines from China and Russia. Additionally, the E.U. has been providing Hungary with vaccinations. The Hungarian Prime Minister emphasized that vaccinations will only bring an end to the epidemic. He said that “vaccination is our primary, our only means of defense against the virus.” The Hungarian government plans to ease more restrictions when the number of vaccinated people reaches 2.5 million.

Economic Impact

From the beginning of the lockdown measures, the Hungarian economy’s progress slowed. Unfortunately, the pandemic had a massive impact on Hungary’s national currency (forint) with it reaching an all-time low twice during 2020. Moreover, most cafes and restaurants have closed their doors for several months. Only the cafes and restaurants that can adopt the “take away” system can remain open. As a result, the lockdown measures resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs.

Hungary also hosts many tourists each year. However, because of travel restrictions and lockdown measures, the number of tourists dramatically decreased, subsequently harming businesses and the economy of Hungary.

Moving Forward

Due to COVID-19, Hungary faced economic and social challenges. For several months, the country was under strict lockdown measures. As a result, many people lost their jobs and business owners closed their businesses. The Hungarian government decided that the mass vaccination of the population was the only way out. The number of vaccinated people in the country is significant, showing the success of the Hungarian government’s vaccination program.

Tofig Ismayilzada
Photo: Pixabay