Hungary has come through the worst of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gergely Gulyás, head of the Prime Minister's Office, declared in the first government press briefing of 2021 last Thursday.
Map of locations of the 25 designated hospitals to provide inoculations against the Coronavirus. For precise addresses and other information see this govt website: https://www.nnk.gov.hu/index.php/egeszsegugyi-dolgozok-covid-19-oltasi-helyei
Both official statistics and independent media reports from anonymous medical professionals support Mr Gulyás' assertion, at least to an extent.
True, there were almost 9,600 newly identified cases of the virus recorded last week, but this is the lowest 7-day total since mid-October. And the number of deceased, at 693 for the week, means the average daily death rate (at 99) has slipped below three figures, if only just, for the first time since mid-November.
(For comparison, the first days of December proved the most deadly for Hungary, when the week's deceased numbered 1,196 – or 170 per day.)
Certainly, while still not good, the numbers show a distinct downward trend, even if total cumulative deaths in Hungary attributed to the virus broke the 11,000 threshold during the week. Total deaths now stand at 11,341, and there are 111,872 currently infected with the virus, including 4,345 in hospital.
I haven't written anything on the pandemic for three weeks, in part because of wide fluctuations in the reported numbers over the Christmas-New Year holiday period, in part because the discrepancies between what might be termed “the expected deaths” (ie the deaths in a particular week last year, plus the reported Covid-deaths for the week in 2020) and actual deaths (as reported by KSH, the Central Statistics Office) disappeared in December.
In other words, the discrepancy of roughly 500 deaths per week in unexplained deaths detected in November (see blog posts dated December 20 and 27) no longer existed beginning, quite abruptly, from the first week in December. (Note the KSH has yet to publish deaths for week 52 of last year.)
All this, together with almost 113,000 people having received initial vaccinations in Hungary, as reported this morning on the government website, bodes well - even if the first cases of the more infectious variant of the virus, identified in the UK in December, have been detected in the country.
But this being Hungary, it wouldn't be right if things were going too well, especially if any of the good news might be attributed to the European Union, the source of all jabs so far in the country.
No, the EU is “too slow” with its deliveries, Mr Gulyás said, as the country was receiving “fewer than 100,000” doses per week. Why, Hungary could inoculate “over 500,000 people” per day, if the vaccine were available, he said.
The government is now looking to buy Chinese, and possibly Russian, vaccines in order to accelerate the inoculation rate.
Now I am no medical professional, but claiming Hungary could inoculate half a million people a day seems a little bit of a jab too far to me.
I'd guess that it would take a medical team at least four minutes to administer and properly record each vaccination, allowing for interruptions, deliveries and a break here and there during a day. So that's 15 persons an hour.
And let's say the gallant team worked a (very tiring) 10-hour shift, meaning they could deliver 150 inoculations per day.
So to process 500,000 individuals – assuming transport for such vast numbers of folk were available in the first place - would take 500,000/150 or 3,330 helathcare teams located across the country.
Considering the reports we read on how overloaded and short-staffed the medical profession is in Hungary, I'd have thought setting up just 330 properly staffed teams would be quite an achievement.
As of now, as illustrated, the government map above reveals there are just 25 hospitals available for vaccination. Of course, these will, I expect, house multiple teams, but how many is not clear. Could they house 330? Maybe. But 3,330, or anywhere near that figure?
Whatever, to repeat, I'm no medical expert.
Nonetheless, all I can say is that if Mr Gulyás ever has to return to the legal profession to earn a living, I'd be very wary of his mathematical calculations when it comes to the chances of winning in court if I were looking for an attorney-at-law.
I wish readers a safe, healthy week.
Govt website (Hungarian): https://koronavirus.gov.hu/#/
For KSH Weekly deaths (in Hungarian, but not to difficult to figure out) see: