Hungary’s capacity to carry out vaccinations well exceeds vaccine supplies, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Friday, adding that the process may accelerate if the Hungarian authorities approve a Chinese vaccine, a decision which could be made within days.
Orbán said Hungary is in a position to obtain a Chinese vaccine in large quantities but first the Hungarian health authorities must approve it. He added that hopefully the authority would provide a clear response within the next few days.
“We’re unable to move faster with inoculating people not because Hungarian health care is incapable of carrying out mass vaccinations rapidly but because we have a shortage of vaccine supplies,” Orbán said in an interview with public broadcaster Kossuth Radio.
He noted that so far 105,728 people have been vaccinated in Hungary, whereas post-Brexit Britain has already vaccinated some 4 percent of its population.
“The vaccination rate in the EU is below 1 percent due to the fact that there are not enough vaccines here,” Orbán said.
“Now, in times of trouble” the task is to obtain a vaccine instead of “pointing a finger at Brussels”, he said.
Meanwhile, the prime minister said that it appeared the second wave of the epidemic had been reined in and recoveries outnumbered new infections. At the same time, he referred to a “third wave” in other parts of Europe as “bad news”.
Orbán said confidence among Hungarians concerning vaccinations was steadily growing. Soon, more than than 1.7 million people over the age of 60 with chronic illness will receive the vaccine, he said, adding that vaccines would be in plentiful supply once approval were given for the Chinese vaccine. He said vaccination of around 1.5 million people was possible in a single weekend.
Referring to a request by Stella Kyriakides, EU commissioner for health and food safety, that member states should not negotiate separately with vaccine manufacturers, Orbán said that more than hundred Hungarians were dying every day. “A Greek commissioner shouldn’t tell me what to do,” he said.
He said would be possible to get “our old lives back” long before the summer if the Chinese vaccine were approved.
Commenting on a video of a morgue released by independent lawmaker Ákos Hadházy, Orbán said nothing was sacred to the left-wing opposition. “The Hungarian left wing has gone too far,” he said, adding that their idea that “what’s bad for the country is good for the left wing” put lives at risk.
Meanwhile, commenting on the increase in industrial output, Orbán said people were keen to work and make a living from working. Amid the economic crisis, the government, he added, was combining tax cuts with job retention measures and investments. “More people had a job in December than a year earlier,” he said.
The prime minister said the moratorium on loan repayments had left 3,000 billion forints with households and companies.
As well as the phased reintroduction of the 13-month pension, the government also launched “the biggest ever housing renovation and home-building scheme”.
Orbán announced that Hungarians below the age of 25 will not have to pay personal income tax from January 1, 2022. The measure will cost the budget 130-150 billion forints (EUR 363-420m). He said it was important that young people should be given “a serious opportunity”, adding that the full tax break would apply to up to the threshold of an average salary.
The prime minister said that the country had pulled away from the brink of a crisis in 2010 and that it was possible to repeat the same feat.
“We know what Hungarians like and don’t like”, he said, adding that the government’s understanding of its citizens was key to successful crisis management, adding that success this year would be based on understanding that people want to work, and this would require a tax cut.
Featured archive photo by Zoltán Máthé/MTI