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The government has chosen not to share detailed statistics on the number of vaccinated and unvaccinated patients in Covid wards. While other countries have shared data on the subject, Hungarian officials give varying reasons as to why they will not publish specific hospitalization numbers, even though so far, such data has helped prove the efficacy of vaccination. Opposition member and MEP István Ujhelyi argues that the withholding of such information is an attempt to hide statistics that would disparage support for the Sinopharm vaccine.
The fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic is getting stronger in Hungary, and hospitalizations are increasing. The Orbán government emphasizes the need for vaccination above all other defensive measures, but the number of vaccinated Hungarians remains below six million.
It is possible that by releasing the number of vaccinated Covid patients and unvaccinated Covid patients, Hungary could increase its vaccination willingness by proving the efficacy of vaccines. But officials do not seem to want to release the data, opting for broad answers instead.
RTL News tried to find out how many vaccinated people are in hospitals compared to unvaccinated people. The government’s Coronavirus Media Center responded that sharing such data would compromise control over the virus by giving people a false sense of security.
In a government press conference back in September, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyás did not give a specific answer to the number of vaccinated people who were hospitalized due to Covid.
The Minister reasoned with the protection of personal data why the number of vaccinated people in hospital is not made public, and why the list of deceased people cannot include whether they have been vaccinated or not and with which vaccine. He said that this is considered to be special personal data and that it could be a crime of mercy to disclose it. At the same time, the daily coronavirus statistics published by the Hungarian government have so far been anonymous, containing only the age and sex of the deceased and their alleged underlying medical conditions, including information such as being pregnant or suffering from liver disease due to alcoholism.
On October 21, the minister said, based on information from one hospital, that among the 1,105 Covid patients being cared for in Hungarian hospitals, around 55 percent were not vaccinated. Gulyás has also stated that he does not consider there to be any correlation between Hungary’s Sinopharm vaccinations and hospitalizations, adding that, according to his knowledge, most vaccinated patients in hospitals were vaccinated with Pfizer. Most elderly Hungarians received this vaccine.
Semmelweis rector Béla Merkely, who actively speaks on Hungary’s Covid situation, emphasized at the end of October that among fully vaccinated individuals, especially those under the age of 60, hospitalizations and infection severity are very minimal. For those above the age of 60, Merkely strongly recommends a third vaccination, especially for people who are often in close contact with others.
Other than the total amount of hospitalizations and people on ventilator treatment, there is very little information available around Hungary’s Covid wards. Data regarding intensive care and data for hospitals in specific regions are not provided outright, along with the lack of statistics on vaccinated and unvaccinated patients.
Some municipal mayors, however, are able to convey detailed information about their citys’ and towns’ Covid statuses. This is the case in Balassagyarmat, for example, where Mayor Gábor Csach, a member of Fidesz, regularly shares information specific to his municipality. According to 444.hu, however, it is not as easy for opposition mayors to access such information from the government.
Among other details which he can get from both a local hospital and the government, Csach has brought up that unfortunately, there have been Balassagyarmat locals under 60 who have succumbed to the virus as well, and even vaccinated locals were in severe condition. He sends his condolences to the families.
Regarding Covid severity for vaccinated individuals, Gábor Zacher, doctor at the emergency department of Hatvan’s hospital, told ATV News that for every 10 unvaccinated individuals in the hospital, there is one who is vaccinated. The ratio is worse among people who end up in intensive care and ventilator treatment, where there is typically one vaccinated patient for every seventh unvaccinated patient, Zacher estimates.
The vaccine is not a miracle cure. Mask-use, social distancing, and surface disinfection are also necessary to avoid infection.”
Internationally, multiple countries have begun sharing details of the amount of Covid patients who are vaccinated and the amount of Covid patients who are unvaccinated.
Serbia, for example, measured that among 145 thousand hospitalized individuals, 25 thousand had already recovered by the start of the study on July 1, 75 thousand were vaccinated, and 45 thousand were unvaccinated, according to Serbian tabloid Blic.
The study also found that among hospitalized vaccinated patients, 6.8 percent received Pfizer, 8.3 percent received AstraZeneca, 13.6 percent received Sputnik V, and 71.4 percent received Sinopharm.
The study also says a lot about vaccine efficacy in general. Among those who were hospitalized after infection, 75.2 percent were unvaccinated, while 24.8 percent were vaccinated. According to Our World in Data, 44 percent of Serbia’s population is fully vaccinated.
In a similar study using information from all of its hospitals with Covid patients, Austria found that in non-intensive wards, around 43.6 percent of patients were vaccinated.
Out of the 304 Covid patients in intensive wards, 74 had vaccination certificates as of November 2. The data shows that unvaccinated people are significantly more at risk of ending up in intensive units if they are infected. They made up 75.7 percent of intensive ward patients at the time.
According to Our World in Data, 63 percent of the Austrian population is fully vaccinated.
Socialist representative and Member of the European Parliament István Ujhelyi said in a press conference last Wednesday that he has been unable to get any information on the details of vaccinated Hungarians in Covid wards. After requesting the National Public Health Centre (NNK) on September 15 for information on such data, he was informed weeks later that NNK is not responsible for such information, despite Minister Gergely Gulyás saying otherwise at a prior government press conference.
Ujhelyi believes government officials are “throwing the issue back and forth amongst themselves,” because Hungarian data differs from currently available Western data. He argues that the controversial efficacy statistics around Sinopharm, and Hungary’s inoculation of its elderly population using the Chinese vaccine, have led to significant numbers of vaccinated Hungarians being hospitalized.
The government, for business, reasons, forced a vaccine on the elderly and on Hungarian society. Even its producer has admitted that it was not tested on those above the age of 65. Now our compatriots inoculated with this vaccine are falling ill en masse.”
Featured photo illustration by Tamás Vasvári/MTI