How well did Hungary manage the coronavirus pandemic?

The Hungarian government likes to stress how successfully they have managed the coronavirus pandemic. A lot of people (and data) would argue with that, but one thing is for certain: health care workers made super-human efforts to save lives, and while SARS-CoV-2 is the deadliest in the world in Hungary (in terms deaths per one million population), without health workers’ immense sacrifices and their tremendous job, the situation would be a lot worse. On Wednesday, we presented a unique chart that offered a look at the harsh reality in this respect. Today, we give you two more that are equally dramatic.
koronavírus vásárlás korlátozások nyitva tartás wc papír

Don’t forget that these data are out there. OurWorldInData, Worldometers,, KSH, it's all there. Only not many people put them together quite like Balázs Pártos does. And he’s ‘just’ a local enthusiast, who has been sharing highly informative and revealing data sets and charts on his Facebook page. Here’s are his latest findings.

Pártos put the spotlight on 165 countries, including Hungary, in terms of (i) the number of registered COVID-19 cases vs. active cases, and (ii) the number of those that recovered from the infection vs. coronavirus-related deaths. (All figures used are per one million people.)

(15 countries that were performing an extremely high number of COVID-19 tests were excluded this time, but even if the charts included 180 countries as before, Hungary’s position relative to the others would still not change, only it would be not so close to the corners relative to the axes.)


A bit of explanation to the charts

The ratio of the axis scales is 1:8 in one case (right-hand chart) [12,000 vs. 96,000], and 1:25 in the other (left-hand chart) [3,500 vs. 87,500]. The blue chart looks like an 8x8 chess board (12,000 X 8 = 96,000 and 1,500 X 8 = 12,000), and the orange(ish) one does not look like a chess board, because it’s a 7x7 board (12 500 X 7 = 87,500 and 500 X 7 = 3,500).

The trendline on the ‘chess board’ intersects a rectangle with 7x4 grids. Seven steps to the right (by 12,000 each) entails four moves up (1,500 each). Put it differently: 84,000 / 6,000 = 14. Countries on the trendline have a 1:14 active cases to registered cases ratio. South of the line, active cases outnumber the number of people with positive tests by more than 14 times, while north of the line there are fewer active cases than registered cases by more than 14 times.

As regards, the other chart with the orange(ish) background, the rectangle of the trendline is also about 4x6, but due to the different scaling: 4 x 500 = 2,000 vs. 6 X 12,500 = 75,000. 2,000+ 75,000 = 77,000 . For the sake of simplicity, let’s make this 76, so we can divide it by two.

76/2 = 38.

This means that out of every 38 infected people 37 recover and 1 dies.

(1/38) x 100 = 2.63%. That’s largely the OCC (Outcome of Closed Cases) for 165 countries.

This is the OCC for countries on the trendline, while those north (and left) of the trendline have a lot more deaths relative to those that recovered, and south and to the right fewer deaths.

COVID-19 deaths vs. Recoveries

Let’s see the 7x7 ‘board’ first which depicts the ratio of COVID-19 deaths to those that recovered from the infection in 165 countries.

The dashed line is a trend line. The best linear fit according to the position of the dots. It shows the average of the 180 countries. NOT their weighted average, but their average.

And Hungary is the big red dot again.

Put simply, there can be a lot of recovered people if a lot of people got infected. If a lot of people were infected, the given country was very much exposed to the pandemic. Consequently, if a country reports that a lot of people recovered from the infection, it’s a good think because not all of them died, but it is also a bad thing for it means many were infected.

Many people recovered from COVID-19 = great exposure to the pandemic.

Also, many deaths = bad. As seen in our earlier article.

The best position on the first chart is to be in the top right corner. Hardly any recovered people and hardly any deaths, so the costs of the pandemic were low (e.g. New Zealand: 5 vs. 524).

If a country has a lot of recoveries and hardly any deaths, it means that either an immense number of samples were tested and/or the health condition of the population is excellent (e.g. Qatar: 195 vs. 75,253).

When a country does not perform enough tests and its health care system does not perform adequately, then there is a relatively high number of COVID-19 deaths and very few recoveries. These countries should be in the top left corner, but it’s empty. The closest one to it is Mexico, with a moderately high number of deaths and very few recoveries (1,703 vs. 14,723).

And then there’s one country in the bottom left corner.
Yes, you’ve guessed it.
It’s Hungary.

This is the case when a lot of people get infected, a lot of them recover and a lot of them dies. In countries (or should we say country?) like this

they did perform tests, only not enough, the pandemic swept across the country, cost many lives, but the health care system is not half bad because a lot of COVID-19 patients recovered.

This means health care workers have been doing an amazing job, while… “the rest is silence”. Everything else was poorly done and a different approach would be necessary next time.

Hungary’s ‘scores’ are 3,069 vs. 69,658.


Registered cases vs. Active cases

Let’s take a closer look at the other chart (8 X 8 ‘chess board’), which shows all people tested positive vs. active cases per one million people.

The place you want to be on this chart is the bottom left corner where there was practically no pandemic at all. No previously registered cases, no active COVID-19 cases, nothing. There are two types of countries in this category. New Zealand is an example for the first where these conditions applied (534 vs. 4). In the second category we find countries where it’s all true but only on paper. These include most countries in Africa, and also India due to the immense population.

What about the bottom right corner? Well, it’s not ideal but at least the pandemic is over. A lot of cases were registered but there are practically no more active cases (Israel: 90,002 vs. 55).

How about the top left corner? It’s empty space, of course. There’s no country where no one was tested positive but there are active cases. There are some, however, who are gravitating towards this zone, namely countries where half of those ever registered as positive are still in active status. In these countries, the pandemic is still present but on the back burner. There are not too many positive cases, the pandemic is ‘in progress’, and it’s not particularly troublesome to be there. One example is Finland (16,513 vs. 8,053).

And here we are in the top right corner.

Yup, there’s Hungary. The fat red dot again.

The problem is that it’s an extremely bad place to be. This is the case when there were a lot of infections and the number of active cases remains high. In other words, the pandemic was grave and – compared to the other countries – it’s not over yet.

Hungary: 83,262 vs. 10,534.


Cover photo: Getty Images

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