We did it once before, we will succeed in conquering the epidemic again
27. 09. 2020.
There will be a vaccine against the coronavirus for Hungary, and everyone who wants to will have access to it in good time, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on TV2’s programme ‘Facts’ on Sunday evening. Regarding the fight against the epidemic, the Prime Minister highlighted that we did it once before, and we will succeed in conquering the epidemic again.

In the interview recorded on Saturday, the Prime Minister said there will be a vaccine, they will organise its availability for Hungary in order for everyone who wants to to have timely access to it.

He indicated that according to Brussels, the vaccine against the coronavirus could be developed sometime in the first half of 2021, at the latest, but according to the Americans, this could happen before the end of this year.

According to his information, there are ongoing talks with the United States, Japan, China and Russia, and Hungary has also contributed financially to European research programmes supported by the European Union. The chances are not bad, the Prime Minister said in summary, taking the view that four to five power centres of the world will be able to offer humanity the vaccine that will stop the spread of the virus in the coming year.

He said it is another important conclusion that the elderly continue to remain most at risk, and the epidemic is now in an ascending phase. The situation is difficult, there is much pressure on health care and education, and the situation will become even more difficult in the months ahead, he said.

He highlighted that people must be offered a recipe for the fight against the virus which they are ready to accept, and so it is necessary to create points of understanding, national unity in other words. He said national consultations serve this purpose, and from these he was able to decipher what the people want. They clearly say that they want to protect themselves, but they do not want the country to come to a halt again; Hungary must remain up and running, Mr Orbán laid down.

He pointed out that if health care workers continue to stand their ground and are able to take the ever increasing pressure also psychologically, “we will be able to do it, we will succeed as we did in the spring”.

He took the view that as regards the observance of the rules, the summer is full of temptations, but the autumn will help, cooling down the atmosphere, and people will be more ready to observe the rules than they were in the summer.

He confirmed that there are physicians and nurses available everywhere, there are sufficient hospital beds, protective equipment and ventilators. He indicated that they have developed a gradual defence system, and have designated the first eight hospitals. If these run out of capacity, then will come phase two, followed by further phases, and physicians and nurses will have to be sent where they are required.

He explained that they continue to closely monitor Austria; the only place he is somewhat baffled by is the Czech Republic where numbers have got out of control, and this is something we must pay attention to.

He said he believes that the closure of the borders continues to remain important as that is where “supply lines” are which must be severed.

The Prime Minister said “we will find a way out of this miserable situation” and until then we will endure.

He added that health care will work, the economy will work and “we will not retreat, we will preserve the chance of Hungary emerging from the crisis stronger”.

Regarding the fact that an international credit rating agency upgraded Hungary, he said he welcomes all encouragement and all good news; at the same time, we must concentrate on one single thing, and that is jobs. If there are jobs, if there are workplaces, there will be growth and good credit ratings, Mr Orbán stressed. Tax reduction, investment, development, the Prime Minister summarised their policy.

He said another possibility – if all else fails – is for the state to hire people. This is a less favourable solution, but it provides bread and a chance for families. The third option is the system of conventional public works schemes, and while this is very far in terms of pay and quality of work from what would be desirable, in the absence of all else, it is better than nothing, he stated. The Prime Minister pointed out at the same time that it will be essential to raise public works wages next year.

Mr Orbán also highlighted that at present more people have jobs in Hungary than in January and March. More than 4.5 million people are now in employment which is a dividing line. He recalled that ten years ago when they took over from the socialists in government, around 3.6 to 3.7 million people had jobs, and the first dividing line was 4 million. Many did not believe that this could be reached, but it happened, and now the new magical line is 4.5 million which has been exceeded, he said. He observed that in his mind there is a Hungary with as many as 5 million people with jobs, but this is not a task for the immediate future.

At this time, the real question is whether businesses will be able to create new jobs which are more competitive than those at present. In the world, there is a process under way, as part of which work force, production and capacities are being relocated and reorganised, and this is a race that Hungary must enter. It is the duty of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó to enrol in this race and to complete the race with a respectable time, he said, pointing out that in his view our chances are good.

Regarding Budapest, he said in tourism and catering, the capital’s business model relies on foreigners where 93 per cent of all hotel bookings come from foreigners, in contrast to Rome or Paris where this is around 50 to 60 per cent. He underlined that Budapest does not have a business model with which to attarct Hungarians to the capital and to induce them to spend a weekend in Budapest. This business model must be changed under any circumstances, even if life returns to normal, the Prime Minister laid down.

He observed that some two thousand billion forints have been left with families and businesses with the credit debt repayment moratorium which has been a great help for everyone, and that they have reduced taxes for businesses. The government has done everything that was conceivably possible in the countryside and in Budapest, he said, adding that some extra help would be welcome, and that it would be well worth following the direction of the recommendations of the Budapest Chamber of Commerce and Industry.