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The Covid-19 variant first identified in India has been detected in Hungary, the chief medical officer told a press conference of the operative body responsible for the epidemic protection efforts on Friday.

Of the two patients identified with the variant, one has already recovered and the other is being treated in hospital, but does not need a ventilator, Cecília Müller said.

Neither patient had travelled abroad prior to the infection, and so the source is yet to be determined, she added.

Müller noted that scientific consensus was growing on the vaccines already in circulation being effective against the Indian variant.

Meanwhile, the pandemic continues to subside in the country, she said. The weekly average of new infections last week was 39 percent lower than on the week before, she said. The fall was sharpest in the southern Somogy and Csongrád-Csanád counties, 57 and 53 percent respectively, while Vas county saw a 9 percent increase, she said.

A majority of new infections is registered among the working-age population, Müller said, and urged caution and the observance of protection measures.

István György, a state secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office and the head of the working group coordinating the vaccination campaign, said Hungary was one of the countries closest to herd immunity, with 90 percent of those registered, or 52 percent of the whole population, already inoculated.

The high inoculation rate helped Hungary defeat the third wave of the pandemic, but the presence of the Indian variant has raised the spectre of a fourth wave, György said.

Herd Immunity Doubtful - Hungary's Vaccinations Freeze Up
Herd Immunity Doubtful - Hungary's Vaccinations Freeze Up

The government estimated that Hungary would reach six million vaccinations by mid-May, and seven million by the third week of May.Continue reading

Meanwhile, Hungary has received 334,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, of which 175,000 will be administered as a first jab. Fully 280,000 AstraZeneca and nearly 70,000 doses of Moderna vaccines will be given as second jabs, he said. The 84,000 one-dose Janssen vaccines will be used on vaccination buses, which have already serviced 24,000 people in remote localities, he said.

featured image illustration via MTI/EPA/Idrísz Mohammed