In his New Year’s address televised at midnight on Friday, President János Áder said 2021 had been similar to 2020 in many ways, with fluctuations between better and worse periods depending on the status of the pandemic. He said the main difference between the two years had been that there had been means at people’s disposal to defend against the pandemic this past year. “Vaccines made it possible to save lives and endure the pandemic with fewer restrictions,” he said. The president noted that Hungarian biochemist Katalin Karikó, who helped develop the technology at the root of mRNA coronavirus vaccines, was “the most celebrated scientist in the world today”.
Áder asked viewers to spare a thought for the essential workers “whose names we don’t even know”, but who “administered thousands of vaccines a day, held the hands of those who were dying, ran social institutions, guarded our safety, protected our borders, farmed the land and provided services”. He said it was not yet clear when exactly “we will finally be free of the depressing and threatening burden of the pandemic”, but he urged patience, attentiveness and perseverance to ensure that “we get there as soon as possible”. Concluding his speech, Áder quoted Hungarian writer Sándor Márai with the words: “Things don’t just happen to people. People also do what happens to them.”