During the spring, it was common practice that whatever Austria did to control the coronavirus, Hungary also followed suit within one or two weeks. The Hungarian government has not failed to follow this method; in fact, it became a theme – or did it? Seems like it might not be the case. Not only because there is no two-week or one-week delay between the two countries, but also because Austria and Hungary are taking a different path in the pandemic management.
If we were to compare the data of the two countries, there would be nothing supporting the theory that the Hungarian situation is like Austria’s. Index compared the data of the two countries. The data they used is not the most up-to-date, but it is from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which eliminates methodological differences.
No serious conclusions can be drawn from the number of infected people. In week 44 – the ECDC uses a weekly breakdown –, Austria had 26,800 registered infections and Hungary had 19,900. In proportion to the population, i.e. per 100,000 inhabitants, this means 303 cases in Austria and 204 in Hungary. This would imply that the situation is worse in Austria. It should be noted, however, that Austrians test more, i.e. the higher number of positive cases can simply result from more testing.
Data independent of the number of tests performed is much more eloquent.
These are the number of coronavirus patients treated in the hospital, the number of patients on a ventilator, and the number of deaths daily or on a cumulative basis. Neither data sets give cause for optimism, and neither shows any indication that Hungary follows Austria in any way.
Hungary pulled away, but not how it was supposed to
From the data, it seems that Austria can control the spread of the pandemic much better than Hungary can. Index compared the data of the two countries between September 1st and November 1st. At the beginning of September, Austria was a little bit worse, but it was more or less the same as Hungary: about a hundred people were hospitalised in both countries, seven were sent to the intensive care unit in Hungary, while this number was 30 in Austria, and about one or two patients died daily.
Two months later, more than 4,000 infected people were hospitalised in Hungary and more than 300 were in the intensive care unit. The daily number of deaths was close to 70 and even went over 100 several times. Compared to Hungary’s 4,205 coronavirus patients in hospitals, only 1,657 people needed care on the 1st of November in Austria.
The most important difference is in the mortality rate. While in Hungary, the daily mortality data is 69, in Austria, it is only 18. The daily data is, of course, somewhat unreliable, as the fluctuation can be significant, so it is worth looking at it in a larger time frame. Cumulative data is not much better either: between the 1st of September and the 1st of November, a total of 364 patients died in Austria while 1,205 died in Hungary.
Hungary had three times as many deaths caused by coronavirus than Austria in just two months.
The data shows that in Austria, although there are more confirmed cases – the number of tests is higher as well – there are far fewer severe patients, and even fewer are dead.
Two weeks behind
The gap began to grow sometime in the second week of October. During this period, there were no serious restrictions in Hungary nor in Austria, but shortly after, Austria gradually introduced restrictive measures. At first, from October 23, they made the use of masks mandatory, then they prohibited the gathering of large groups of people. From the 1st of November, Austria introduced a curfew, and restaurants were closed. High schools and higher education institutions have switched to digital education in Austria as well.
Hungary implemented these restrictions with a delay of about one and a half weeks. It is said that Austria was Hungary’s “guinea pig”. However, this is certainly not the case anymore, as Hungary already had more hospital patients and a higher death rate in the second half of October than Austria.
After all, Austria, which is in a more favourable position, has taken all the steps sooner than Hungary did.
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