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No protective measure can shield people from contracting the coronavirus, only the vaccine can, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Friday.

In a regular interview with public broadcaster Kossuth Radio, the prime minister noted that the Delta variant of the virus was more aggressive and infectious than its previous variants.

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Those who are inoculated against Covid are not in danger, he said, adding at the same time that the virus was life threatening to those who have not been vaccinated. Not only are they likely to get infected, but they will also likely end up seriously ill and in hospital, Orbán warned, and encouraged everyone to get the vaccine.

Until everyone is inoculated the virus will keep lingering, he said, adding that while less than one percent of those who are vaccinated fall ill with Covid, those who have not received the jab were ten times more at risk. Although those who are vaccinated can also contract the virus, “far fewer of them” end up seriously ill than those who are unvaccinated, the prime minister said.

He said protective measures like mask mandates were effective in slowing the spread of the virus but did not guarantee full protection. “So we mustn’t be under the illusion that we are protected if we go into lockdown, self-isolate and wear a mask. That doesn’t protect us, only the vaccine does,” Orbán said.

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The prime minister said Hungary will have 15 million coronavirus vaccine doses delivered by the end of the year.

Concerning the new protective measures introduced from Nov. 1, Orbán said the reason the government had got employers involved in the defence against the pandemic was because the virus was spreading faster in some parts of the country than others. Employers have therefore been given the right to order their employees to get vaccinated and put those who do not comply on unpaid leave, he noted, acknowledging that “this is a controversial measure”. Orbán added, at the same time, that though Hungarians would not have accepted a blanket vaccine mandate, they accepted such a decision being taken by the workplace community.

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Workers employed by state institutions who come into contact with a lot of people but refuse to get vaccinated will be put on unpaid leave with immediate effect. Eventually all state employees will have to decide between getting vaccinated or being put on unpaid leave, he added.

Featured photo illustration by Zoltán Fischer/PM’s Press Office