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If vaccination with Chinese vaccine could also start, all registered persons can be inoculated by Easter

The Prime Minister said it is good news that some 700,000 persons are already immune in Hungary: 310,000 persons have already received at least one dose of the vaccine, and another 383,000 persons are confirmed to have undergone the disease brought on by the coronavirus.

It is bad news, however, that the fall in the number of new cases has stopped, and numbers are rising again, he pointed out, relaying the latest data, according to which there are 1,860 new confirmed cases, 99 persons have died, there are 3,828 persons in hospital, including 299 who require assisted ventilation.

“We must observe the rules,” the Prime Minister stressed, observing that in the last few days the recent favourable trend has reversed throughout Europe, including in Hungary, due to the British virus variant according to speculations.

At the same time, the Prime Minister said there is no need for the further tightening of the rules, and in fact, he would be positively against such a move because “we now have enough vaccines to improve the situation with a well-organised vaccination campaign at least as much as is necessary due to the natural deterioration of the situation”.

Mr Orbán highlighted that if vaccination could also start with the Chinese vaccine – a prospect which is not far off now – by Easter everyone who has registered so far, some 2,448,000 persons can be inoculated.

By the end of May-beginning of June, this number could reach 6.8 million which means that in Hungary, compared with other European countries of comparable sizes and populations, we could vaccinate 3.5 million more people, he said, adding that at present there are 7,189 vaccination points.

He also said there is no way of knowing at present for how long the various vaccines offer protection, and therefore we must prepare for having to revaccinate those who have already been vaccinated in 6 to 8 months’ time.

Therefore, vaccine procurements must be ongoing, “we must continuously direct and redirect our scouts […] and wherever a few thousand or hundred thousand vaccines are about to fall off some truck, a Hungarian scout must be standing by to catch them,” he explained.

Regarding the EU procurement of vaccines, he said the business arrangement is good, but there is a problem with time. However, at present, those who gain time gain lives, and this is why Hungary also needed the Chinese and Russian vaccines.

“Those who waste time lose lives,” he said.

In the context of the Chinese vaccine, the Prime Minister indicated that the Centre for Public Health must conduct some more tests, but there is a good chance that the Chinese supplies could be released for distribution amidst safe circumstances.

In response to suggestions that, according to many, we should also wait for the seal of the European Medicines Agency, he said Hungarian experts are at least as good as any European; in fact, he has more faith in the tests of the Hungarian centre for public health than in those of Brussels.

“We must have faith in ourselves, in Cecília Müller, in her colleagues, in Hungarian professors,” Mr Orbán stated, repeating that with each day spent waiting, the country loses a hundred lives, “so I’m not going to wait”.

Regarding the online consultation about the easing of restrictions, he said he will finalise the five to six questions of the consultation on Friday afternoon, and the consultation will be conducted on the same website where people can register for vaccination.

On the radio programme, the Prime Minister was also asked about the introduction of a document certifying immunity, regarding which the government will make the necessary preparations because, Mr Orbán said, if during the consultation respondents agree that those who are already immune should be given more freedom, there should be no technical obstacle to granting such privileges immediately.

He added that it would be fair, if after a test, those could also be included in the group of persons with immunity who may not have undergone official testing earlier and are therefore not featured in the official records of confirmed cases, but “have antibodies, meaning that they’ve already undergone” the disease without being aware.

The Prime Minister stressed that vaccination, the lifting of restrictions and the restarting of the country are the biggest help for the sectors in trouble. He observed that if at least those who have been vaccinated and have had the infection could be allowed to use hotel and restaurant services, tens of thousands of jobs could be saved.

The interest-free loan of HUF 10 million with a grace period of three years which will soon be made available to micro- and small businesses is an important element of the economy restarting action plan. The Prime Minister would like the allocation of HUF 100 billion intended for the purpose to be increased without an upper limit if there is further demand.

He highlighted that due to the housing refurbishment programme, the increased housing grants and the reduction of the VAT on housing construction projects to 5 per cent, we should expect a shortage of work force very soon, especially in the construction industry.

At the same time, we can expect “a housing construction boom” on a scale not seen for a long time, he added.

The restarting of the economy is “hard work,” but “we’ll give it a push,” and the Hungarian economy will return to the pre-crisis level of its performance more swiftly, he said.

From today, pensioners will receive the first weekly instalment of their 13th monthly pension to be re-introduced over a period of four years. With this, “we will manage to redress the last crime of the previous left-wing government,” he said.

“The Left are not in an easy situation, […] we are removing the remnants of all their sins,” the Prime Minister said, observing that, in addition to the 13th monthly pension, the Left also took away the 13th monthly salaries of public servants, including physicians and nurses.

By contrast, the incumbent government has increased the salaries of nurses by 70 per cent over three years, and physicians, too, are being given an unprecedented pay rise, he highlighted, adding in summary that the economy restarting action plan “includes both the removal of the last remaining rubble of left-wing governance and the opening of a new era”.