If Hungary is able to maintain the first dose vaccination rate of recent days, it will likely surpass 4 million vaccinated people tomorrow, so the country’s big reopening could already begin on Saturday.
The Orbán government previously decided to link the gradual lifting of restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the pandemic to the number of people who have received at least the first dose of a vaccine.
After the number of individuals who received at least their first jab passed 3.5 million, last Saturday the government reopened open-air bars, restaurants, and cafes.
According to the official plans, the next and so far most significant step of Hungary’s reopening is set to take effect once four million people have been inoculated. This will include the opening of indoor areas of catering establishments, while those with vaccination certificates can also visit hotels, theaters, cinemas, libraries, zoos, gyms, swimming pools, and several other venues.
Last week, the prime minister’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyás, said that the number of Hungarians who have received their first dose of a vaccine will likely have reached four million by early this week. Later, Viktor Orbán predicted reaching the four million mark by Wednesday or Thursday.
Even though at the end of last week it seemed that Hungary’s vaccination campaign hit a barrier, in the past days it has regained its momentum.
So much so that based on the number of administered first jabs of the past several days, Hungary could reach the four million mark by Friday. This means the new rules granting people much more freedom could already enter into effect on Saturday.
Although the number of first vaccinations administered dropped significantly over the weekend (on Sunday only 10,000 people received their first jab), on Monday, a new ten-day Sinopharm vaccination campaign began.
The Chinese vaccine is by far the least popular among Hungarians, and many expected it would be rejected by most. However, based on data from the last few days, it seems this is not the case.
Whether this is due to the prospect of the ‘big reopening’ or there are simply a lot of people who don’t mind being inoculated with the Chinese vaccine, it’s hard to tell.
Either way, on Monday 76,000 first doses were administered; on Tuesday 94,491 and on Wednesday 96,001.
According to official data as of today, 3,870,222 people have already received the first jab. Therefore, should this vaccination trend continue, Hungary could easily have four million people vaccinated by midday tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the government announced that starting next week, people registering for the new mass vaccination campaign will also be able to choose the Astrazeneca vaccine instead of Sinopharm. (AstraZeneca is the second most unpopular vaccine type in Hungary).
The question now is how long will this relatively high willingness to be vaccinated last?
Previously, the government emphasized that it is not the vaccination capacity but the number of available vaccines that is hindering the faster increase of the vaccination rate in Hungary.
This problem could soon subside. On Saturday, 600,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines, on Tuesday 480,000 doses of Sputnik, 355,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, and 19,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in Hungary.
Unfortunately, the shipment from Pfizer, which is the most popular vaccine type in Hungary, will be insufficient to include in the new vaccination campaign as it will mostly be used for the second dose vaccination. While another part of it will be used to vaccinate the age group of 16-17-year-olds as this is the only vaccine type authorized for their inoculation.
At the same time, Pfizer promises to deliver 1.3 million doses in May, up from nearly 1.1 million in April, so that there will be 150-250,000 doses per week for the first vaccines in the coming weeks.
All things considered, it is likely that the country will soon reach a point where there will be more vaccines than people registered for vaccination, so the government’s target of 7 million people vaccinated by early June may not be reached.
Featured photo by Attila Balázs/MTI