The government’s aim is to have as many people vaccinated as possible, with a good chance that all those who registered would get their jab before the end of May, Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff, said on Thursday.
The number of those inoculated has surpassed 3.09 million, with vaccine acceptance growing steadily, he said. Up to now, some 4.2 million have registered for the vaccine, he said. Local doctors receive the list of those to be inoculated, and they then decide who to inoculate first, he said.
Hungary has been at the forefront of the European Union’s inoculation drive, while its death rates have also been among the highest in the world. As of Thursday, it had vaccinated 3.1 million people, or nearly a third of its population.
“Inoculations require vaccines and we know that another one of the shots ordered by Brussels will be missing, the (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine will not arrive. That means half a million fewer shots,” Gergely Gulyás told an online briefing.
The European Medicines Agency is expected to issue a recommendation next week on use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, following reports of rare blood clots similar to those reported for the AstraZeneca shot.
The EMA, the EU’s regulator, says it continues to believe the benefits of the vaccines far outweigh the risks of side effects.
Gulyás said all shots used in Hungary, including those of AstraZeneca and China’s Sinopharm, were safe and effective. He was responding to local media reports that some people had still fallen ill or were not sufficiently immunised after being inoculated with the Chinese vaccine.
Hungary, with a population around 10 million, has so far recorded 736,982 COVID-19 infections and 24,521 deaths. Nearly 10,000 patients are currently in hospitals, more than 1,100 of them on ventilators, which is pressuring the healthcare system.
“If we can make up for the shortfall in Johnson & Johnson shots, then we can inoculate everyone (registered) by the end of May, then we will have more vaccines than the number of people registered,” Gulyás said.
With daily deaths still around record highs, Orbán is having to strike a balance between curbing the spread of the virus and minimising the economic damage of lockdown restrictions. He announced further moderate easing steps on Wednesday.
Wage subsidies paid for restaurant keepers after their employees is being expanded for May.
Bars and restaurants can start serving customers outdoors when the number of Hungarians inoculated against Covid-19 reaches 3.5 million, which is expected around the middle of next week, Gergely Gulyás told a regular weekly press briefing held online.
The regulations scrapping the fees restaurants paid for use of public spaces will be published later in the day, Gulyás said.
He noted the Hungarian tourism agency and catering unions have collected guidelines for the hospitality industry to facilitate applying uniform pandemic-related rules after reopening.
Meanwhile, the reopening of schools will proceed gradually, Gulyas said, with maximum precaution in line with responses people gave in the government’s national consultation survey.
“In the first phase, kindergartens and the lower grades of primary schools will reopen next week,” Gulyás said.
Source: MTI, Reuters