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Coronavirus: Hungary to Buy More Ventilators in Fight Against Pandemic

Fanni Kaszás 2020.04.02.

At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, according to Prime Minister Orbán, Hungary had a supply of 2,560 respirators to help treat those who are in intensive hospital care due to their severe symptoms caused by the virus. The PM said they are on the hunt to buy more ventilators (since then the Hungarian state has managed to buy more equipment), while Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller ensured everyone that if the mass infections start and the disease “explodes” in Hungary, they can still “provide care for every ill person.” At the same time, many warn that the respirators are not enough- hospitals also need the capacity and enough human resources to treat infected people with them. 

From data available so far, and from the experience of epicentres in China and later in Europe, have shown that 80% of patients infected with coronavirus are more likely to get through the disease at home with mild symptoms or even without any symptoms. However, while the flu can only develop pneumonia in severe cases, slowly, as a kind of complication with coronavirus, it occurs almost immediately in severe form.

There are people at increased risk of the disease, such as the elderly, people with weakened immune systems, and people with chronic conditions. These patients need intensive hospital care and may even be placed on a ventilator because of severe symptoms, shortness of breath, and pneumonia due to the disease. National Chief Medical Officer Cecilia Müller said at the Operative Board’s daily press briefing today that a quarter of the confirmed cases in Hungary have no symptoms, while 5% (17 people) of the 525 positive patients need ventilator support and 6% need intensive hospital care.

MTI/Balogh Zoltán

Unfortunately, currently there is no vaccine that would cure the coronavirus, thus doctors can only treat the symptoms to heal and support the body with respirators (as long as it defeats the disease with its own immune system) and if the respiratory system does not begin to heal itself.

For this, the hospital capacity, the number of healthcare workers, and of course the supply of ventilators is of utmost importance. At a news conference back in March, Viktor Orbán listed all equipment and human resources that are available to face the pandemic. Back then, the Prime Minister emphasized that 2,560 ventilators are available in Hungary. The resources are constantly expanding, last week for example, 86 respirators arrived from China, and Hungarian diplomats have launched a  search for ventilators on the international market. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade with the help of OTT-ONE Nyrt., will also be able to buy 500 ventilators from China for HUF 4.7 billion.

Coronavirus: 3 Million Face Masks, 86 Ventilators, Tests Arrive from China

However, it is important to note that these medical devices are not that useful without adequate infrastructure and technical support, as well as human resources. Müller said at today’s press briefing that if mass infections start and the disease “explodes” in Hungary, they can still “provide care for every ill person.”

Müller also said that “there is an exact plan to deal with the pandemic” both at an institutional level, as all hospitals have health emergency plans, and nationwide as well, with capacity building from week to week, according to a schedule to help potential patients. Part of this process is an ongoing plan to increase capacity of the hospitals dealing with coronavirus patients. At first, the confirmed cases were treated only in the South Pest Central Hospital, later the operative board expanded to include epidemic hospitals in the countryside as well, then they included the department of epidemiology in the county hospitals as well. Müller said that they also have additional, buffer capacities that have been designated, to be ready for the worst-case scenario.

featured photo: MTI/Balogh Zoltán