An unprecedented worsening of the pandemic situation in Hungary has cast doubt on the prospect that the joint adoption of containment and vaccination will be a magic formula against Covid-19.
With record rates of daily and hospital infections collapsing, doctors and government are speaking out in a third wave that attributes it to the spread of variant B.117, the so-called ‘UK variant’.
More contagious and deadly, according to a recently published study, B.117 is already the cause of 80 to 90% of new cases in Budapest, said Béla Merkely, dean of Semmelweis University of Medicine, in a statement. interview.
Nationwide, 50% of cases attributed to the mutant are increasing, according to sequencing lab Neumann Lab.
The daily number of new cases, which already came from a worrying average of 5,100 last week, has risen to 8,312 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of active cases in the country to 128,408.
The death toll is also only rising, despite Hungary maintaining severe restrictions imposed in November last year, with schools closed for those over 11, banning non-essential commerce, limiting reunions to 10 people and the curfew from 8 p.m. to 8 p.m. 5 a.m.
A new series of measures was imposed on Monday (8), including the closure of most businesses and the suspension of early childhood and primary education.
Worsening epidemiological data also defeated Hungary’s vaccination campaign, whose government was one of the few in the bloc to approve vaccines not yet released by the European Union, such as the Russian vaccine Sputnik V and the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine. Of the 27 members of the European bloc, Hungary has the most doses available in relation to its population: 25 per 100 inhabitants.
Along with larger inventories, the country also has one of the highest dose application rates – around 16 per 100 people – a modest number compared to the over 30/100 in the UK, but above that of the rich. Germany, which is around 10/100. Despite this, their state of health is increasingly described as desperate.
Since February 18, the number of hospitalized patients has doubled and the number of those requiring intensive treatment has tripled, the country’s chief medical officer, Cecília Müller, said in an interview on Thursday (11).
There are 8,329 beds occupied by Covid-19 carriers, a record number – the previous peak of 8,045 occurred in December. 911 people are on mechanical ventilation, more than 91% of the estimated maximum capacity of the ICU. “These are very high numbers and we must do everything to protect the population,” she said.
Following a phenomenon recorded in other countries (including Brazil), the proportion of younger patients has increased and hospitals in various parts of the country – such as the city of Hatvan – have already declared that they cannot accept new patients. In the Hungarian media, reports of doctors who are forced to choose who will receive help are increasing.
Younger patients without chronic conditions, considered to have a greater chance of survival, displace older patients or those with underlying illnesses from intensive care. “Yet we are losing people who would have 20, 30 years to go, who will not see their children’s high school diploma, let alone meet their grandchildren,” one said at 444 .hu.
To make matters worse, the outlook is deteriorating, according to the chief medical officer. The presence of coronavirus genetic material in sewage has increased – and, scientists say, tests are starting to detect the pathogen in this residue two days before symptoms appear.
In more recent projections, the Hungarian government says the peak of contagion is expected to occur in April.