A month ago, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated that all people who had registered, would be vaccinated by Easter. Despite this, PMO Head Gergely Gulyás was much more cautious yesterday, speaking exclusively about vaccinating the elderly by the given time. It seems the government’s previously set goal proved to be too ambitious.
Slower than promised vaccination pace
If Hungary can begin using China’s Covid-19 vaccine then all 2.4 million people who have registered for a shot can be inoculated by Easter, PM Orbán said in his regular interview with public broadcaster Kossuth Radio almost exactly a month ago.
Hungary’s Chief Medical Officer also said at the end of last month that everyone who had registered in advance to receive the vaccine would receive it by Easter.
After the government announced that it would alter its vaccination plan prioritizing as many people as possible to receive their first shot, secretary of state István György, head of the taskforce for vaccination, said their goal was to vaccinate every registered person by April 11th.
However, based on the latest information given by the prime minister’s chief of staff, these goals are very unlikely to be met.
At his regular press briefing on Thursday, Gergely Gulyás said Hungary’s seniors will receive their coronavirus shots by Easter “depending on the number of those registered.” “We can vaccinate people over the age of 60 or 65 until Easter,” Gulyás said.
It is clear from the Minister’s much more cautious statement that the government is less optimistic about the rate of vaccination than before.
One of the reasons is probably the significant increase in the number of those who registered to get a jab in the past month, which likely had an impact on the government’s calculations.
According to Gulyás, so far, some 3.2 million Hungarians have registered for vaccination – 800,000 more than a month ago.
Unfortunately, even reaching the inoculation target set up last month is unlikely to be achieved.
Now the number of available vaccines is not a bottleneck. The country, propelled by hundreds of thousands of Chinese and Russian vaccines, has the largest vaccine reserve in the bloc.
By Thursday, 1,230,000 people had received their first jab, according to official data.
To vaccinate 2.4 million people by Easter, at least 48,750 people should be vaccinated every day – a figure that has been exceeded in only four days so far.
Last weekend’s chaotic organization led to the postponement of vaccination of tens of thousands, seriously affecting that week’s inoculation plan.
This would not be the first time the government has contradicted one of its earlier statements regarding vaccination.
Last Sunday, Gergely Gulyás promised that 400,000 people would be vaccinated by Wednesday, twice the number of those who actually were. Later, Gulyás’ ministry explained the statement by saying that the interview itself was conducted on Friday, but was only broadcast on Sunday, explaining the difference in the numbers. However, the aim was not achieved even in that case, as instead of the promised 400,000 vaccinations, only 334,305 were given, according to the government’s official statement.
Hungary still leading in EU
Despite the slower vaccination pace than initially planned, Hungary is still in second place in vaccinations per capita in the EU (after Malta). In its Thursday edition, German newspaper Die Welt even called Hungary the ‘European champion’ of the vaccination campaign.
But the favorable vaccination data for Hungary is not so reassuring, considering the country has the third-highest Covid-19 fatality rate in the world, according to data by Johns Hopkins University, and is in eighth place in deaths per capita, according to WorldOMeters.
Featured photo illustration by Zsolt Szigetváry/MTI