Through its vaccination drive Hungary has been able to break the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic and become the first country in Europe “to regain its freedom”, the prime minister’s chief of staff said on Thursday.
Speaking at his weekly press briefing, Gergely Gulyás noted that some four million people, about 80 percent of those registered, had already received at least the first jab,
Gulyás said that nearly 2 million first coronavirus shots had been administered in the past four weeks, inoculating nearly 53 percent of the adult-age population. Hungary has subjected all vaccines to rigorous scrutiny, and “everyone can rest assured all available vaccines are safe and effective,” he said.
The process of reopening will continue and residents with immunity certificates can again use services interrupted in March.
Coronavirus-related restrictions will remain in place for Hungarians without immunity certificates until August.
Gulyás said the certificates would continue to be required to attend concerts and festivals, use restaurant or hotel services and to participate in sports events “during the coming months”.
The economy is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year, and the government hopes to maintain growth in 2022, Gulyás said.
Asked about Hungary’s 28,000 Covid-related deaths, Gulyás said last year’s figures put Hungary “in midfield” in the European Union. “It’ll probably be the same this year, too.” “Criticising the extraordinary efforts of doctors and nurses is not right, nor is it ethical to use the issue of deaths to wage a political campaign.”
Asked when the number of inoculated would reach 5 million, Gulyás said the country had sufficient vaccines in place and the goal could be achieved “before the end of this week”, though, he added, this may only be achieved later in the month. The number of people in Hungary who have registered stands at around 5 million, he said.
Gulyás said Hungary could “return to normalcy” by the summer unless a new virus mutation resistant to all available vaccines emerged. He noted that normal health services were being resumed, with screening programmes under way. The ban on hospital visits may be lifted once 5 million people have been vaccinated.
Featured photo by Tibor Illyés/MTI