Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated in February that all 2.4 million people who had registered would be vaccinated by Easter. Last week, the prime minister’s chief of staff was a lot more cautious, exclusively talking about vaccinating the elderly by the given time. Now, in his parliamentary address on Tuesday, Orbán set a new deadline for the inoculation campaign: the end of the second quarter of 2021.
In recent months, the Orbán government has spoken several times regarding when all who have registered will be vaccinated. For a long time, an Easter deadline was the benchmark, but for now, it seems that Hungary will not be able to meet this target while the number of those who register for the jab also continues to rise.
Orbán sets new deadline
In his parliamentary address yesterday, the Hungarian Prime Minister emphasized that should the more than 3 million previously ordered vaccine doses arrive from China in May, then all 3.5 million people who had so far registered would get vaccinated before the end of the second quarter of the year.
“We will be the first European country to be able to do this,” Orbán said.
Orbán claimed that there is no contradiction in the government’s communication and the measures introduced, as they follow a logical pattern.
“We always adapt to the current situation,” he said.
Low administration rate of vaccines
It is undeniable that Hungary’s vaccination rate, propelled by millions of Eastern vaccines, is among the highest in the European Union, but critics of the Orbán government often mention that the administration rate of the available vaccines is far worse – among the lowest in the EU.
According to the government, the hundreds of thousands of available vaccines -mostly Chinese- that haven’t been used yet, will be either administered in the next few days or are stored to serve as the second vaccine for people who have already received the first.
However, in the past days, the number of those receiving a jab was drastically low: from Sunday until Tuesday only around 50,000 people were vaccinated- which would have been low even for daily numbers considering the government’s inoculation plans.
Considering the slow pace of vaccination and that so far only around 1.4 million people have received their first jab in Hungary, achieving Orbán’s original promise of vaccinating 2.4 million by Easter seems unattainable.
With the rapidly growing number of coronavirus cases and fatalities, this also means it is unlikely Hungary will see the end of the strict lockdown measures introduced at the beginning of March for two weeks.