The coronavirus epidemic is once again spreading at an accelerated pace in Hungary. The trend that started at the end of August continued throughout September as well, and based on last month’s figures, it is likely that the fourth wave that recently arrived will soon flare-up. Meanwhile, the spread of the virus in Hungary is also boosted by the almost complete absence of restrictive measures, the low number of covid tests being conducted, and the stagnation in the number of administered vaccinations.
Hungary’s coronavirus statistics are rapidly worsening, with a significant increase in new infections in the past 30 days. At the beginning of September the moving average of the newly registered infections was 171; by the end of the month that figure more than doubled (451). Currently, the number of new daily cases is around 500-600, which is fortunately well below the extreme numbers of the third wave (the highest daily new infections recorded were 11,265 in March), but the negative shift is clearly visible.
The number of hospitalizations has also risen substantially. At the beginning of September, 132 Covid-19 patients were being treated in hospital- at the end of the month, their number increased to three times as many (633). On top of this, six times more patients are on ventilators than at the beginning of September (from 13 to 87). Meanwhile, 133 Covid-19 deaths were registered in the past month.
There is also a worsening trend in one of, if not the most important epidemiological data. Although still rather low, the number of daily coronavirus-related fatalities has increased as well. The seven-day rolling average of covid deaths went from 1 to 6 in the past 30 days, essentially reaching the same level as last September.
Given the clear downturn, Hungarian experts agree that the spread of the virus could be curbed by increasing the number of covid tests. Although the number of positive tests in Hungary is currently below the WHO upper limit of 12%, in recent weeks its seven-day rolling average has risen from 1.75% to 4.19%, hovering near the 5% mark, at which experts claim the epidemic is not under control.
In addition to covid testing, Hungary has also fallen behind in vaccinations compared to the EU, falling back from being one of the countries with the highest vaccination rates just a few months ago, to the middle of the pack with the population’s 57% being fully inoculated (the EU average is 63%).
ECDC data shows that Hungary still has a more favorable epidemiological situation than most other European countries, but the worsening figures, combined with the fact that Hungary is one of the most lenient countries in Europe when it comes to restrictions (practically almost no restrictions have been in place since July in the country), strongly suggest that the numbers will deteriorate sharply in the coming weeks.
Featured photo illustration by Tamás Vasvári/MTI