With only 55 COVID-19 tests performed per 1,000 inhabitants, Hungary lags behind most European countries. At the same time, the share of positive tests indicates that the number of performed tests may not be in line with the spread of the virus.
Statistical data by Our World in Data, published by Euronews here, has revealed a ranking of countries based on how many COVID-19 tests are performed per one thousand people. According to the results, the country that has been doing the most intensive testing is Luxembourg: here, 650 tests were performed per 1,000 inhabitants. This was followed by Denmark with 532 and Lithuania with 255. Figures are available from as early as mid-March and are continuously updated.
With 55 tests performed, Hungary is third to last in the ranking, with only Croatia and Ukraine having a lower number of tests performed (40).
It is important to note that the numbers coming from each country do not refer to the exact same information. Croatia, for example, reports the number of people who were tested instead of the total number of tests performed, which is the figure most countries have been providing. In Lithuania, the number refers to the tests that were actually analysed.
In our region, the best figures belong to Austria (150), but according to Euronews, Serbia is among the better performers, too. These two are followed by Romania with 105 tests, but the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Poland, and Slovakia too are ahead of Hungary. Only Croatia and Ukraine have poorer figures than Hungary, although as mentioned above, calculations were slightly different in these cases.
According to the WHO, a crucial indicator is the share of positive tests, with a threshold value of 5%: if a country has a lower value than that, it means that the “epidemic is under control there”. In Europe, only two countries have this number above 10%: Spain and Ukraine, but many others have a “critical value”, such as the Czech Republic (7%), Romania and Hungary (6%), and France (5.4%).
The share of positive tests is also important regarding the actual spread of the virus: an increasing value might suggest that the virus is spreading at a higher rate than the number of registered cases.
In recent weeks, Hungary has seen a rise in the number of tests taken, which can be attributed to multiple factors, such as the rising number of positive cases and the fact that many Hungarians would rather perform the obligatory two tests to avoid home quarantine for 14 days after travelling abroad.
But the pattern is similar in most other European countries. Another indicator, the number of tests taken per week, has increased everywhere, but if we compare Hungary to countries that are similar in population size, we will see that there is room for improvement: in Belgium, for example, over 200,000 tests were performed last week while in Sweden, it was more than 140,000. In Hungary, this number was barely above 60,000. The highest number of tests was taken in France (above one million), but then again, the population size needs to be considered here.