The second wave of the coronavirus epidemic is “more serious” than the first, but “the country and its health services are far more ready for the challenge”, Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff, told a regular government press briefing. Gulyás said the government trusted that the new restrictions over the next thirty days would stop the spread of the virus and health capacity would be sufficient to treat patients requiring intensive care. He added that Hungary was monitoring the practices of neighbouring countries, especially those of Austria. “The same measures in Hungary have resulted in far lower case numbers,” he said. Hungary, he added, had the highest number of ventilators per million people and the third-highest number of hospital beds and intensive care beds in the European Union.
Asked about the US-German coronavirus vaccine, Gulyás said that so far the government has signed a 13 billion forint deal with a single company for 6.5 million doses. He said the government must try to obtain any other vaccine that has been tested three times, is proven to save lives, and can be imported before the US-German vaccine is made available. Talks are under way with Israeli, Russian, and Chinese parties “concerning any vaccine that cannot be obtained through EU ties”. Vaccinations will be provided on a voluntary basis and free of charge “no matter which vaccine is available”, Gulyás said, emphasising that only vaccines that are not harmful would be procured. Talks “with all parties” are under way on licencing the vaccine so that it can be produced in Hungary, the chief of staff added.
Concerning the timing of recent coronavirus-related restrictions, Gulyás said the government had taken “timely and appropriate” measures. Whereas twice as many hospital beds are available compared with the current number of Covid patients in the country, “this is not true in terms of nurses and doctors”. The restrictions were introduced to maintain an appropriate level of health services, he said, adding that the government was confident that Hungary’s health system would withstand the burden of the epidemic.