Vaccine supplies offer hope as Hungary records deadliest day of the pandemic
On Wednesday, Hungary recorded its highest number of daily deaths with 195 people losing their lives to COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours.
Yet, as the country struggles against the third wave of the virus, the government's vaccine strategy is being celebrated as a counterattack, after officials choose a different path to much of the European Union.
Another 100,000 doses of Sinopharm were flown in from China on Wednesday, part of the orders the government placed when it deviated from the strategy of the EU. Stepping away from EU procurement meant buying extra supplies from Russia and China, which so far the government has praised as being delivered on time and often ahead of schedule.
The result is in stark contrast to much of the European Union, where countries are arguing over vaccine exports and worried about the safety of some jabs, with many pausing their use of the AstraZeneca shot.
Five jabs are now on offer in Hungary, used to vaccinate 1,397,342 people so far, more than 10 percent of the Hungarian population. Of that number, 406,746 people have had their second dose.
The Hungarian government says it has the right strategy. Prime Minister Viktor Orban claimed the country "would be in big trouble right now" had the government not ordered extra vaccines from outside the bloc.
Officials in Hungary are continually critical of the EU's slow and interrupted vaccine roll-out – with Orban introducing the idea of a locally produced jab as well. While it would only be a long-term solution, he has has spoken of creating a vaccine production plant in Hungary as well as a joint venture with Israel.
In the meantime, vaccination confidence in the country is also growing. The government says new data have shown 46.4 percent of people are already vaccinated or in favor of getting a jab. The figure has risen from 15 percent when they began collecting data at the end of last year.
Speaking yesterday in a government press conference Chief Medical Officer Cecilia Muller said: "We are waiting for vaccines. We are waiting for them every day but the amount to be delivered is limited. We have vaccinated more than 1.3 million people in Hungary. That is a very nice number. We use every single vial that comes to Hungary."
Currently Hungary is in second place in the European Union in terms of vaccinations administered. It's hoped ever-increasing numbers could mean a more rapid exit from the latest wave than some of its EU neighbors.
Officials claim that by Wednesday, Hungary will be the most vaccinated country in the EU per capita.