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All Hungarians above the age of 18 will have received at least the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine by the end of May, and life can return to normal in late May or early June at the latest, Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff, said.

In an interview published by pro-government Figyelő on Thursday, Gulyás said 60-75 percent of Hungarians would have to get vaccinated to reach herd immunity. So far, more than 4.1 million of Hungary’s 8 million adults have registered for vaccination, he said.

Commenting on a statement by the Hungarian Chamber of Doctors that early reopening was not “professionally justified”, Gulyás said “although our relationship with the chamber has been a bit hectic of late, we agree that restrictions can only be lifted carefully and gradually.” Decisions on summer events are yet to be made, he said.

In answer to a warning by teachers’ union PDSZ that an early reopening could lead to a fourth wave of the pandemic, Gulyás said that “in light of recent experiences, the union should be seen as an opposition political force” working “as a tool of opposition propaganda rather than representing teachers’ interests”.

Regarding the EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund and its next seven-year budget, Gulyás said the two resources would bring a total of 15,000 billion forints (EUR 42bn) to Hungary, the largest sum ever received.

The recovery fund will boost Hungary by 6,000 billion forints over a period of five years, while the EU’s 2021-2027 financial framework will provide 9,000 billion during the period, he said.

Some two-thirds of those monies will go towards developments in healthcare, infrastructure and higher education, Gulyás said.

Universities will receive funding regardless of whether they signed onto the government’s reorganisation programme, he said. Developments in healthcare will focus on developing Budapest hospitals as “hospitals outside Budapest are generally in better shape”, and on procuring diagnostic equipment and other tools. Regarding infrastructure, the EU’s priority is now in funding railways rather than road constructions, he said.

Regarding next year’s general election Gulyás said he expected a “campaign beyond, or rather below, anything we’ve seen before” leading up to the vote. “The opposition cooperation has assembled all disgraced and incompetent players from the far left to the far right, held together only by its hatred towards the government.” Voters will decide how many votes can be collected through hate-mongering, he added.

“Our interest is that voters assess actual government work, and the country’s development in the past decade, despite enormous difficulties,” he said.

featured image via Lajos Soós/MTI

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