Recently, newer and newer coronavirus variants have been discovered, and experts are saying that the third wave of the pandemic seems to be near. With the new variants appearing in more countries, the threat of the third wave is much more serious. According to some experts, even more restrictions might be needed to avoid the worst possible outcome of the threat posed by the new variants.
Although vaccination is in process in Hungary, the number of new cases seems to be rapidly increasing. Index drew attention to a report by a Hungarian television channel, RTL: in their news programme, they interviewed a virologist:
“From the healthcare’s point of view and from an epidemiological point of view, it would certainly be useful to close schools, but I need to emphasise that it is not just these aspects that matter in the life of a country. Decision-makers also need to consider the psychological point of view as many people are already sick and tired of the current restrictions and would probably rebel even more against another tightening of measures. [Currently, elementary schools can operate normally in Hungary.]
Schools pose a threat only because if it is mandatory, it affects a lot of people; parents take children to school and grandparents bring the children home. If schools are closed, parents will also be forced to stay at home at least to some extent.
From an epidemiological point of view, this would be a more perfect, complete closing of the country. But apart from that, there is not much else that we could do. Once the schools are closed, we could not do anything more,” Miklós Rusvai told RTL.
The restrictions have been in place for almost a full year in Hungary, with only a short lax in measures around the summer. Many people, especially in the catering and foodservice industry, are struggling. A lot of people have no income and are burning up their savings – that is, if they had any to begin with. The supply of some goods has been declining, and the prices of many products have risen.
According to Miklós Rusvai, the latest wastewater data might influence the decision-makers one way or another.
“Fortunately, wastewater data seems to be favourable: [the coronavirus traces in the wastewater are] either stagnant or declining slightly. The data of week 8 will already show the effects of the coronavirus vaccination. If the tendency [of traces of coronavirus] worsens, then stricter measures will be necessary,” the virologist added.
24 highlighted another worrying aspect of the third wave: infectologist János Szlávik said that people getting hospitalised are younger and younger. In another report of RTL, they investigated the current rising trend of new infections and the alternating, but constantly high, death count. The numbers started rising at the start of February; from 1,370 daily new infections on the 7th of February, it rose to 4,469, almost three times as many, by the end of the month. In the news programme, RTL asked Tamás Ferenci, a biostatistician, about his opinion on the matter:
“One of the possibilities is that, even with the current restrictive measures, we will run into a wave that will peak in size similar to the autumn wave, but it is also a possibility that it could be even worse.”
He also said to RTL that the rapid growth of new infections is due to the UK variant. Ten infected people will spread this variant to 12 or 13 other people. This means a reproduction rate of 1.2 or 1.3. The previous variants had a reproduction rate of only 0.8 to 0.9. He thinks that anything over 1 could mean an explosive increase and spread of the coronavirus.
The worst scenario would have mortality rates as high as 200 people daily.
Source: Index.hu, 24.hu, RTL.hu