Last year, just like in most countries in the world, was about the coronavirus pandemic in Hungary as well. We take a look at how this dangerous disease started spreading in the country, hoping that the recently started mass vaccination will soon render the virus a thing of the past. Summary.
In Hungary, from the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March until the very end of 2020, a shocking 322,514 coronavirus cases were registered, and 9,537 people died. This means that almost every hundredth fatality of the last year in the country was due to the coronavirus.
The first two coronavirus cases were registered by the authorities in Hungary on March 4, 2020, after which the virus started spreading rapidly. Less than two weeks later on the 15th of March, the first coronavirus-related death occurred.
While the very first cases were registered among foreigners who presumably had been infected with the virus during one of their previous trips abroad, the disease soon began to advance inside the country as well.
By the second half of March, Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller announced that the virus had spread to every part of the country. So far the outbreak has spread across Hungary in two waves.
The first wave of the virus
The number of registered Covid cases exceeded 100 on March 21st. The number of active cases then saw a continuous increase throughout the spring, surpassing 2,000 in the first half of May, then declining in the following weeks. During the first wave of the virus, the daily number of fatalities remained below 20 people. In this time period, one of the most surprising feature of the Hungarian statistics was the high mortality rate coupled with a low number of cases, which at first glance could only be explained with an extremely overburdened and/or extremely poor quality healthcare system. Later, however, it turned out that the anomaly was caused by the exceedingly low number of tests: with only every 14-15th case identified.
After the number of active cases reached a record in May, a cooldown period started in the summer, which lasted until the second half of July when the registered infections once again began to slowly rise. As a result of the favorable statistics, the government gradually abolished the previously imposed lockdown rules.
The second wave
In August, it became apparent that the second wave of the epidemic would begin after the number of active patients had tripled in just that month.
In September, the situation further deteriorated. The number of registered coronavirus infections in Hungary quadrupled (from 6,257 to 27,309). Meanwhile, 165 people died just in that month alone. The hike in the number of active coronavirus infections continued throughout the following months, spreading rapidly.
By November, the epidemic became so severe in Europe and in Hungary as well, that strict restrictions had to be introduced again. The number of active cases hit its new maximum in the second half of December with an astonishing 198,785 active cases. This was followed by a plateau phase and a sharp decline in the concurrent number of infected people. Unfortunately, the number of daily fatalities did not show such a sharp decline and remained relatively high with 104 deaths at its lowest on December 25. So much so that during December population-wise, Hungary was continuously among those few countries in the world with the highest number of deaths due to the epidemic. Based on data from Johns Hopkins University, on December 20 in proportion to the population, Hungary had the highest number of coronavirus-related deaths in the whole world.
Despite the depressing statistics, it is somewhat reassuring that the administration of coronavirus vaccinations has started in Hungary as well.
For the first time, following an accelerated procedure, the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines were authorized by the EU on December 21, 2020. Following its approval, vaccination against the coronavirus was started in Hungary and Slovakia on December 26, 2020, ahead of the bloc’s other member states. Healthcare workers were the first to receive the vaccines; their immunization is still ongoing.
Featured photo by Zoltán Balogh/MTI