Hungarian health experts state that a fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic is unavoidable in the Fall, but it is not expected to be as severe as the brutal third wave, thanks to vaccinations. Still, experts emphasize that the best defense is for unvaccinated people to be fully vaccinated as soon as possible. Third vaccinations are suggested for Hungary’s most vulnerable demographic.
Renowned virus researcher Miklós Rusvai expects the fourth wave to begin in the middle of September, followed by an “epidemic explosion” in the second half of October. He told Inforádió’s Aréna show that the start of the school year, the return from vacations, and largescale events are all risk factors for an outbreak in the Fall.
Current Vaccinations Effective Against Mutations Too
Hungary’s vaccines provide adequate protection against all mutations, Rusvai explained, referring to the spread of the Delta variant in most other countries, as well as the Lambda variant, which is currently spreading rapidly through South America.
Rusvai says it would be ideal if children are fully vaccinated by mid-August, so that they return to school with optimal protection from the virus. Furthermore, third vaccinations should be administered to people in high-risk demographics, including the elderly and people with a chronic illness. Those who were vaccinated at the beginning of the year should get revaccinated around the end of September and the beginning of October.
The virus expert argues that new restrictions, including the return of masks, should enter into force once 250-300 daily infections are reached.
The Unvaccinated Should Hurry Before the Virus Returns
János Szlávik, the chief infectologist of the South Pest Hospital Center, stated that two vaccinations should be enough to protect a healthy person from the virus. In an interview with Mandiner, he said that while there is an ongoing debate about how effective the third vaccination is, many countries are employing it for their most vulnerable demographics.
Szlávik believes unvaccinated people need to be convinced to get vaccinated, since they are the most likely to fall victim of the virus in the expected fourth wave.
Regarding youth, however, he believes the decision should be made by both parents and their children, saying that “I do not think that a 15-20 percent level of inoculation among children will have such a significant impact on the development of the virus.”
A Less Severe Fourth Wave with Fewer Restrictions
Rector of Semmelweis University, Béla Merkely, said that there will be no further Covid waves that match up to the magnitude of the last two. Merkely considers this safety to be thanks to Hungary’s high vaccination rate and the fact that many people have already recovered from the virus.
The rector emphasized that right now it is most important for everyone to be vaccinated twice. Third vaccinations, he says, are not recommended for youth or for pregnant women.
Hungary’s Minister of Finance, Mihály Varga, specified that due to Hungary’s vaccination rate, the restrictions enacted in a fourth wave “will not be as widespread and in depth as the ones enacted during prior virus waves.”
The minister told ATV that Hungary is prepared for another wave, and that all the necessary tools for an effective response are present in the country’s healthcare system.
Featured photo illustration by Zoltán Balogh/MTI