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Vaccine needles: Stock photo from Pixabay

In Hungary there are more vaccines than people wanting them

At the end of April, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced that there were now more vaccines available than people wanting them. Hungary is the only such state in Europe.

Published: May 8, 2021, 9:43 am

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    Orban spoke on Kossuth Radio’s programme ‘Good morning, Hungary’ about whether the next stage of reopening would be when 4,5 or 5 million persons are vaccinated. When people have the feeling that the situation is improving, they display less haste in having themselves vaccinated, he noted.

    According to research by the government, while 71 per cent of supporters of the government are willing to have themselves inoculated, this ratio is only 59 per cent among the voters of the Left. The Left are anti-vaccination, and this has its tangible result, he stated. He asked the supporters of the Left to not listen to the anti-vaccination campaign. Vaccination is a national cause, he underlined.

    The Prime Minister  said the interior premises of catering establishments, hotels, leisure time facilities, zoos, museums, theatres, fitness centres and sports events will open to immunity certificate holders, and minors accompanied by relatives will also be allowed to frequent these venues.

    By the end of last month, more than 3,91 million people had received a vaccine. As a result, new rules opening up more establishments could take effect, he stated.

    The inoculation of young people aged between 16 and 18 with the Pfizer vaccine will start after the final examinations, after 10 May, Orban said. He indicated that Pfizer vaccines would have to be reserved for students. Today people can still be inoculated with this vaccine if they want to, but next time they will only have the opportunity to do so in several weeks’ time.

    There are so many vaccines in Hungary that on the whole they are enough for everyone who wants to have themselves vaccinated. At this point, it is only up to the people to have themselves vaccinated, Orban pointed out.

    He recalled that the people had been asked in the national consultation, and 65 per cent of respondents said it is justified to make a distinction between those who hold immunity certificates and those who do not. Additionally, among the adult population the number of people with immunity outnumber those who do not have it, and we must adjust to the majority, he argued. He said they found the constitutional concerns that had been raised unjustified.

    The government has authorised the head of the ministry of foreign affairs to conclude bilateral agreements “with countries that are important for us” about the mutual recognition of one another’s immunity certificates. Such agreements have already been concluded with Montenegro and Serbia, and they are negotiating with other countries as well.

    People will be able to travel with the Hungarian immunity certificate anywhere, he stated, adding that rumours have spread that those inoculated with the Chinese vaccine will not be able to travel during the summer. This was “silly,” he said.

    The Hungarian authorities for their part published data in April comparing the vaccines used in the country. The result is clear: the Russian Sputnik V “is the best”, it has the lowest death rate and the lowest rate of recontamination.

    Sinopharm is better than Pfizer, while Sputnik V is the best,” said Gergely Gulyas, chief of staff to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on April 22.

    Austrian infectious disease specialist Florian Thalhammer in an interview with the Austrian daily Kronen Zeitung recently explained that “different vectors are used for the first and second vaccination, which increases the effect,” of Sputnik V.

    Experts at the World Vaccine Congress have meanwhile recognized Moderna’s vaccine as the best against the Coronavirus. It was also awarded the prize for the best vaccine platform without specifying the selection criteria.

    But problems loom for digital EU health passports since different national apps and databases would have to communicate with each other. The European Commission has issued a request for developers to offer solutions for a centralized digital system.

    This also implies that non-EU travellers, who have been vaccinated in their own countries, must be part of the system and have their vaccinations confirmed to the satisfaction of EU authorities. EU officials told VOA News that shaping a workable framework for the recognition of non-EU inoculation certificates was especially fraught.

    EU and US officials have been discussing mutual recognition of vaccination passports, but so far the Biden administration has avoided implementing a federal scheme, preferring to leave immunity certificates or vaccine passports to the private sector or individual states.

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