Virologist Ferenc Jakab, the head of the coronavirus action group, gave a warning several times in the last months, most recently on Thursday night, that the Hungarian epidemic situation is alarming, and “if we continue in such a way, we are riding for a fall, as the country will run out of its healthcare capacity very quickly and it could be a problem.” Today, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, Balázs Orbán said that the virologist’s warning is fear-mongering, the Hungarian situation is stabilized, and that the country is performing three times as many tests as required by the World Health Organization (WHO) protocol.
Ferenc Jakab, the leading researcher of the Pécs virology team, was also present at the action groups’ meeting on September 21st with Viktor Orbán, where the teams talked about the latest news, developments, and recommended measures. In an online discussion on Thursday, however, he urged more serious measures to be put in force, saying that without them, many more people will be hospitalized and die from the coronavirus.
The discussion took place on the Facebook page of pediatrician Tamás Constantin, with Ferenc Jakab, immunologist András Falus, and pediatrician GP Dániel Tordas on the current issues of the coronavirus epidemic. Jakab started the conversation and said that in his view, the epidemic was going in a very bad direction. The number of deaths have begun to increase, but this is not surprising, as this could already be predicted from the increase in the number of infected patients.
The spread of the virus among young people was dominant at the end of August, but the epidemic has already started to slide towards the older age group; now the average age is 40-41 years, compared to the previous 30-31 years, the virologist said, pointing to another problem that our test capacity is unfortunately finite and we are slowly reaching its limit.
He also said that the WHO also recognized the deteriorating situation in Hungary and changed its classification: Hungary was placed in category 3, which is seriously endangered. He also added that we need to slow down the pace of the epidemic because we will not be able to stop it. “But if we are riding to our fall like this, we will be exhausting our health capacity. We don’t see the epidemic peak or plateau, the numbers go up and there will be more day by day.”
According to Jakab, if everything stays that way and there are no more serious measures, we will experience drastic numbers in a month’s time. More people will be hospitalized and ventilated, and as a consequence, there will be more deaths as well. It is feared that the virus will explode in nursing homes and communities. Jakab said: “I’m really not optimistic, that’s the truth.”
Meanwhile, according to Deputy Minister at the PMO, Balázs Orbán, the virologist is just fear-mongering about the drastic spread of the epidemic in Hungary. Gergely Gulyás’s deputy said on news channel ATV’s morning program that the numbers have stabilized in the country, and that Hungary is performing three times as many tests as required by the World Health Organization (WHO) protocol. In his view, the country is not performing badly in international comparisons, we are constantly testing and it is possible to perform laboratory tests even for those whose condition does not medically justify a test.
Nevertheless, statistics seem to confirm virologists’ warnings, as today, the number of infections increased by a record number of 1,322, while the number of cases caused by the coronavirus has also increased by 17, the highest in the country has seen since April.
On Tuesday, Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller also said at the daily press conference of the Operative Board responsible for controlling the coronavirus epidemic that there is a positive change in the dynamics of the epidemic as the number of patients infected by the coronavirus is stagnating, while the number of tests exceeds 700,000.
However, many claim that the number of tests performed daily has significantly dropped, while the number of infections has not changed. This caused the proportion of infections and tests to grow as high as 12.1 on Monday, while the World Health Organization(WHO)’s recommendation is below 5. According to the WHO, if the positive rate among the tests performed is too high, it means that the country is not performing enough tests. In Hungary, this indicator has not fallen below the recommended five percent since the beginning of September.
As we have also reported, virologists, mathematicians, and experts from the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (ITM) also warned earlier this week that the number of deaths caused by the coronavirus epidemic is expected to rise sharply in early October. Based on epidemiological observations, the increase in the number of infections is followed by an increase in the number of deaths in 5-7 weeks.
Jakab also recently said at a scientific conference that “the numbers are terribly worrying.” Just like other experts, the virologist also feels the lack of government action and in the effectiveness of contact research. As he said, “while in the first wave of the epidemic, the government took appropriate action at the right time, this cannot be said now.”
featured photo: Balázs Orbán (Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI)