We must hold on until the vaccine arrives
11. 11. 2020.
We must hold on until the vaccine against the coronavirus arrives, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview given to the public service television news channel M1 on Tuesday. He also said from midnight the wearing of face masks will also be compulsory on public premises outdoors.

The Prime Minister stressed that the vaccine was now well within reach, and this was the only solution. He said at the end of December or in January, vaccines in some quantities will most certainly arrive from the EU and perhaps also from elsewhere. According to his calculations, Mr Orbán continued, these quantities will be enough to vaccinate physicians, nurses, hospital workers and law enforcement workers, and perhaps also patients who are most at risk.

He added that they are also trying to keep the Chinese, Russian and Israeli vaccine options “on the agenda”. Mass supplies from Europe are not expected any sooner than April, but vaccines could be supplied in mass from other sources, and until then we can hope for smaller supplies from Europe, the Prime Minister said. There will be a partial sigh of relief at the end of December or sometime in January, while we will be fully “liberated” in April, he said in summary.

“In the end, it will be over and we will prevail,” he said. Mr Orbán confirmed that they regarded Austria as “a laboratory”. They keep observing Austria, and as regards the number of infections, at present Hungary is where Austria was a week ago when a curfew was introduced there as well. He observed that, compared with Western Europe, where there are also daytime curfews, Austria and Hungary are doing well. He also added that in Europe, Hungary, Austria and Germany have the largest number of hospital beds, and Hungary has the most ventilators.

He said as the epidemic is reaching its peak, scientists and analysts take the view that there is a 50 per cent chance that the situation could be managed with the present number of physicians, nurses and hospital porters; this risk is too high, and this is why it was necessary to introduce restrictions. He added that protective equipment was available in almost unlimited supplies, and our physicians and nurses were doing an excellent job, but they were available in finite numbers and at the end of the day, “they’re human, too”.

Medical students have also been deployed in hospitals because there are fewer people than would be optimally necessary for the number of hospitalised patients, he observed.

He also said if the people had not been disciplined, Hungary would have been compelled to introduce a curfew earlier. He announced that from midnight people would be required to wear face masks also on public premises outdoors. In answer to the question as to whether there are concerns that, due to the curfew, there will be overcrowding in supermarkets during the afternoon hours, he said there are concerns, but they have faith in people’s wisdom and the practice of keeping a safe distance. “We all love going to the library, cinema, theatre or football matches, but that’s now completely beside the point,” the Prime Minister said regarding the restrictions.

In the context of the closure of secondary schools, he stressed that students had not been sent on vacation, but on a journey of digital education. They do not want to close elementary schools as long as possible because parents would then be required to stay at home which would change their working arrangements, provided that they still had a job, he observed. He asked parents to talk to their children, to tell them that while young people may get through coronavirus infection with mild flu-like symptoms, their parents and grandparents may not, and so they must appreciate their responsibility.

Regarding the regular testing of teachers, school workers, nursery school teachers and creche workers, Mr Orbán said if the rapid test comes back positive, that is 90 per cent reliable; however, if the result is negative, that is only 50 to 60 per cent reliable. At the same time, at this point, all they can do is to make these less reliable rapid tests available which, notwithstanding their lesser reliability, do provide some information, he said, adding that it is to be hoped that there will be enough rapid test kits available to also test social care institution workers with weekly regularity.

He observed that in Slovakia all citizens had been tested. He is now waiting for the conclusions so that they can be integrated into the Hungarian experiences. The Prime Minister highlighted that the curfew and other restrictions would remain in effect for a month, and he would be able to report on the effectiveness of the measures in two weeks’ time. If the results are good, “we could get rid of these restrictions at around Christmas,” he said.

Meaning that at this time, he continued, hotels, restaurants and fitness centres will forfeit their revenues for 30 days, and the government’s help for these actors is for 30 days accordingly.

“Once we get through this, we will have the phase of restarting the economy” and after the end of these 30 days, the government will implement further general measures that will promote all sectors of the economy, he said, adding that an action plan for all is already in the making. We must survive this period with jobs, money, lives and health all at once, he stressed. Regarding the special legal order, Mr Orbán said that though the House will debate bills in the dozens, including a constitutional amendment, in the coming days, many people in the West will claim that there is dictatorship in Hungary.

Many do not like the incumbent government, many want to take over the country, this is a network with George Soros at is centre, “he is the spider, and he is weaving this web”. They will make every effort to help a government into power which will serve their interests, he said.

At the end of the interview, the Prime Minister pointed out that, based on statistics, the number of infections falling on one million persons is 11,745 in Hungary, while the EU average is 18,188. As regards fatalities, in Hungary this number is 255, compared with the EU average of 437. “It is in this context that we must observe Hungary,” he said, highlighting that in trouble Hungarians stand together, whether it is about health care, migration or a flood.