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Coronavirus: PM Orbán Presents Worst-Case Scenario for Second Wave

Fanni Kaszás 2020.09.22.

The autumn session of parliament began with Viktor Orbán’s speech before the agenda, where among others, the Prime Minister presented the worst-case scenario of the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic in Hungary. According to Orbán, a maximum of 200,000 Hungarians can be infected at one time, which means that in contrast to the previously purchased 16,000 ventilators, only 800 machines and 16,000 hospital beds would be needed.  

At the first parliamentary session of autumn, in regard to the second wave of the epidemic, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that in his view it was imported from abroad, just as the virus came from abroad back in March during the first wave. It is really worrying, according to the prime minister, that the number of people in need of hospital care in Austria has risen by 35% in one day, and since he still sees the neighboring country as a “laboratory,” and an example for Hungary, he is confident that “what happens there will happen here” as well.

However, he said that the country is now more prepared for the coronavirus than it was in the spring, because on the one hand we already have experience with it, and on the other hand the government is equipped with “the results of the national consultation.” Referring to experts, Orbán said that in the worst-case in Hungary, 200,000 people could be infected at one time, which means that 16,000 hospital beds and 800 ventilators may be needed at the same time.

Orbán said: “It’s a matter of personal taste, how much one believes in the calculations of doctors and mathematicians.” Therefore, the Prime Minister doubles the predicted number. But according to his information, this should not be a problem either, because there are currently 66,000 hospital beds available and additional beds will be set up if necessary, so the prime minister says no one will be left without care.

Although there are many more active cases in Hungary than during the spring wave, back then the government, in preparation for the ‘worst-case scenario,’ freed up a total of 36,000 hospital beds. The hospitals were ordered to make 60% of their capacity available. This decision was widely-criticized by both professionals and opposition parties because they suspected it resulted in thousands of patients sent home who would have needed daily care.

Other interesting data is the number of ventilators needed in the worst-case scenario. According to the Prime Minister’s most pessimistic estimation, it can be 1,600 (but 800 is the more likely worst-case scenario). Back in the first wave of the epidemic, the PM said that according to calculations, the country would have needed at least 8,000 of the medical devices to be able to treat every severely ill person in case of mass infection and the disease “exploded” in Hungary. However, it turned out that the government has purchased a total of 16,000 ventilators so that “10,000 would surely arrive.” This cost as much as HUF 300 billion (EUR 845 million) for the state.

Coronavirus: Gov't Preparation for 'Worst-case Scenario' Results in Overbuying of Ventilators
Coronavirus: Gov't Preparation for 'Worst-case Scenario' Results in Overbuying of Ventilators

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. To prepare for the worst case scenario, the PM said they were on the hunt to buy […]Continue reading

Back then, Tamás Menczer, state secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said  that the government has ordered so many ventilators because they “wanted to avoid a situation seen in several Western countries where doctors had to select patients to put on a ventilator, determining who could live and who would die.” Menczer said that the ventilators not needed in Hungary would be resold.

At the end of July, the opposition turned to the Chief Prosecutor after it turned out that the Slovenian company whose purchases had triggered a corruption scandal in Slovenia, had also contracted for the purchase of ventilators with the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The questions concerned the ventilators purchased at an average price of HUF 10 million during the coronavirus crisis.

Ventilator Purchases: Potential Police Investigation in Hungary After Scandal in Slovenia
Ventilator Purchases: Potential Police Investigation in Hungary After Scandal in Slovenia

Ágnes Vadai, Member of Parliament for opposition party Democratic Coalition (DK), turned to Péter Polt, the Chief Prosecutor, with questions about the ventilators purchased at an average price of HUF 10 million during the coronavirus crisis. Polt forwarded the questions to the police in a report, so an investigation will probably be launched into the […]Continue reading

According to mfor.hu, which noticed a government decree in the official Hungarian gazette, Magyar Közlöny, a warehouse is being built for the ventilators, for which the government will allocate HUF 2.5 billion (EUR 7 million). The facility could be built under an EU tender and would be an EU central base for ventilators as well, not only to store the thousands of ventilators bought by Hungary. According to the decision, this amount will have to be spent on the construction of the warehouse base by November 30th, and the government agrees to finance and partially advance the costs related to the construction of the COVID-19 pandemic ventilator stock in Hungary under the rescEU tender.

featured photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI