Comparing vaccination rates, Mr Orbán said while Israel is way ahead in vaccination and will soon finish the campaign, and Britain, having left the European Union, is somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent in the vaccination of its population, the average of EU countries is just 6.8 per cent.
“This clearly indicates that something is not right, and this is not a political issue, this is not a mere accusation, it’s not a question of dislike for the EU or Brussels bureaucrats, but a simple fact. This is the situation, they made a mess of this,” the Prime Minister said, pointing out that week after week, we are finding that the deliveries that we reserved and ordered are not forthcoming, or that the numbers are lower than promised.
Regarding the fact that five EU Member States – Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Latvia – would like to convene an EU summit due to problems with the distribution of vaccines, the Hungarian Prime Minister said he shares the Austrian Chancellor’s view. “Something doesn’t add up,” he said, indicating that the agreement was that vaccines would be distributed in proportion to each country’s population, but this is not what we are experiencing now, given that some countries are receiving more vaccines, while others are receiving fewer.
He stressed that if Hungary had not ordered 3.5 million Eastern – Russian and Chinese – vaccines with which 500,000 persons have already been inoculated, “we would now be in very great trouble”.
The only reason why we are not in trouble is that in November “the alarm bells started ringing” and we started negotiations about other vaccines as well, he added, indicating that for this the Hungarian, and from time to time, the international Left, too, criticise Hungary, despite the fact that the foreign affairs and epidemiological experts who foresaw the problems and made a timely decision would deserve praise.
He confirmed that with 13 million Western and 3.5 million Eastern vaccines, in total Hungary has ordered vaccines enough for the inoculation of 16.5 million people because, he added, we also had to prepare for the eventuality that there might not be enough vaccines in territories beyond the borders. As a result, “every Hungarian around the world can be inoculated from the 16.5 million vaccines,” he stated.
The Prime Minister also reported that Hungarian scientists are developing a vaccine, a vaccine plant is being built in Debrecen, and in Israel they agreed on the construction of a factory in Israel. As a result, in a year’s time, Hungary will be self-sufficient regarding vaccines. He said in the world the highest number of different types of vaccines are available in Hungary, and we are ranked first to second in the EU as regards our rate of vaccination.
Regarding the possible time for the easing of restrictions, he said it is a big question of the future whether the vaccines developed so far will also offer immunity against mutations that will emerge later. If the answer is yes, we will be able to lift the restrictions soon; if not, we will find ourselves in a completely new situation, he said.
The Prime Minister also mentioned that the second wave of the epidemic was more intensive than the first one, while the third wave is more intensive than the second one was. He said “the night is always darkest right before dawn breaks, and this is the moment we’re in”. In his view, we must watch out for two things at once now: “darkness” symbolising the continuously rising case numbers, whether hospitals will cope, there will be enough ventilators and there will be enough staff, and “the dawn,” meaning the vaccine and whether enough people will have registered.
He said on Sunday, as part of a video conference at the Ministry of Interior, he will consult with all hospital directors to see to what extent they are prepared for the week ahead which, he said “will probably be the most difficult week of the entire epidemic” equally as regards hospital beds, ventilators and the number of nurses and physicians we are able to deploy.
In answer to the question as to whether Hungary should seek foreign assistance, the Prime Minister said “as far as we can see, we’re fine, meaning that we will be able to give assistance to others, rather than ask for it”. He stressed that we have more beds, perhaps, than anyone else in Europe in relation to our population, and most certainly we have the highest number of ventilators.
He added that they are also able to deploy residents and medical students in their final year, and there is a central deployment plan about the transfer of physicians and nurses from one part of the country to another, should the need arise.
He took the view that while from the Left, one keeps hearing that Hungarian health care “is this weak and that weak,” every day he observes the opposite. “Our physicians are strong and dedicated, our nurses are doing their absolute best. So I think we’ll cope […]. But we have a very difficult weak ahead, we’re now experiencing the darkest moments before the dawn,” he said.
The Prime Minister announced that the number of those registering for vaccination had risen to above 3 million, and people over 60 accounted for a very high percentage of those who had newly registered. He said they decided that as those over 60 are most at risk, even if they registered later, they would be given priority in the order of vaccination.
The Prime Minister described the claim that Hungary is in penultimate position in Europe in vaccination efficiency as a base lie. The vaccines that are in storage are in storage either because they will be administered in the next day or two, or because they are the second vaccines to be given to people who have already received their first doses. He indicated that there is an ongoing debate about which vaccine should be repeated within how many days of the administration of the first dose, but this should be decided on the basis of international consensus within the medical profession.
Regarding the prices of vaccines, he said even if suppliers had charged higher prices for the vaccines, they would have been prepared to pay more because this is about human lives.
He took the view that it is a morally untenable low, and unacceptable behaviour that the Left are turning vaccination into a political issue at a time when people’s lives are at risk.