Minister shares dreadful data amidst sharp Covid resurgence in Hungary
Experts have been urging a drastic change in this practice, but in vain.
Independent MP Bernadett Szél said in a Facebook post that after a 45-day extension the National Directorate General for Hospitals replied to her inquiry that "in the requested form it does not record the data therefore it does not qualify as a data controller." At the same time, it had explained the 45-day delay to their reply by saying that it has a priority role in carrying out pandemic-related duties, including "the regular provision of data facilitating the management of the pandemic."
Szél argues that the Directorate General had previously disclosed data on the share of infected, and hospitalised COVID-19 patients and fatalities among people vaccinated with one and two doses. If said ratios can be obtained, how is it possible that they do not have the vaccination statistics of the same people, she pondered.
MEP István Ujhelyi has recently turned to court and the data protection authority for the same set of figures, and Szél is also going to the data protection watchdog with her plea, saying revealing these figures would increase transparency and help virus defence instead of hindering it.
The cabinet continues to rely on vaccinations that have stalled at a national coverage of about 60%.
Despite a surge in the number of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations and the worse condition patients are despite a potential cross-immunity from previous ‘waves’ and vaccinations, there are no plans to re-introduce pandemic-related restrictions.
In a sharply deteriorating pandemic situation, with absolute and exclusive reliance on vaccinations, with practically no risk-mitigating measures in place it would make a lot of sense to publish such vital information as how many of those affected by coronavirus infection got their jabs, and what kind.
We hear sporadic reports here and there, but that’s about it. Gergely Gulyás, cabinet chief of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has shared horrific data today.
He said, as a sort of clarification of his previous remarks, that
55% of Covid patients in hospital are unvaccinated, which implies that 45% of them have been inoculated.
Reassuringly (hah), he stressed that this was merely average data in a single hospital.
“Those that received their third dose [of a COVID-19 vaccine] are practically not in hospital or very few of them are,” he said, adding that
most of those that are in hospital despite vaccination received Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty).
This is not because Pfizer is not as good as [China’s] Sinopharm or any other vaccine, but because the elderly population received mostly this vaccine, he explained.
He noted that he obtained the data by speaking to doctors and hospital directors who share their experiences with him.
If 55% of people in hospital with COVID-19 are unvaccinated and 45% need medical care despite their jabs, that’s an absolutely dreadful ratio. International examples show that 90 to 95% of people infected with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
Gábor Zacher, head physician at the Hatvan hospital told portfolio last week that the ratio of vaccinated patients in intensive care units appears to be about one in six. This is not the same as the share of vaccinated people among those hospitalised, but still shows a major difference compared to the situation that Gulyás described.
As regards the vaccination situation, the charts below speak volumes.
The test positivity rate jumped to 12.1%, with 2,361 new cases, 1,005 people in hospital and 155 on ventilator. A year ago, the percent positive was 12%, with 1,423 new cases, 2,023 people in hospital, with 201 of them on ventilator.
Four months into one of its worst COVID-19 outbreaks, Israel is seeing a sharp drop in new infections and severe illness, aided by its use of vaccine boosters, vaccine passports and mask mandates. The 'fourth wave' in Hungary is just starting to kick in and authorities have absolutely no intention to make such efforts. The cabinet leaves it up to people to decide what they do to avoid infection, stressing that they can get vaccinated any time, and they can indeed.
When asked about possible plans to reinstate mandatory mask wearing, (not on the agenda right now), Gulyás had the nerve to say today that
Current epidemiological data may give reason for concern, but political mass gatherings pose no risks.
The reproduction rate (R) is two and a half times as high as in Israel.
The most vulnerable group
Let's address the above remarks made by Gulyás on vaccinations in relation to the elderly population and the efficacy of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine compared to others.
He is correct, most Hungarians in the 60+ age group received Comirnaty, more than 914,000 second doses up to 17 October. Yet, Sinopharm comes in second with nearly 559,000 second doses administered.
The highest levels of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were detected in people vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccines of Moderna and Pfizer/BionTech, while the lowest levels were observed with those inoculated with the Chinese Sinopharm shots, according to the results of more than 800 antibody tests performed among the employees of Videoton, Hungary’s largest industrial group in private ownership. For those vaccinated with Sinopharm the company strongly recommends getting a third dose of another type of vaccine, saying it will tremendously increase antibody levels.
In view of the results of these tests, it is fair to say that the efficacy of Sinopharm as regards contracting coronavirus can be put into question. Experts keep stressing, however, that all vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe symptoms and death.
To put these figures into perspective, we have created a few more charts.
The first one shows that over 44% of all vaccines administered in the 60+ age group (2nd doses) up to 17 October were Pfizer-BioNTech's Comirnaty, 27% Sinopharm, 12% Sputnik V (Russian), neary 9% AstraZeneca, 6.4% Moderna, and 1.25% Janssen (Johnson&Johnson).
The second chart shows that 11.4% of Hungary's adult population in the 60+ age group received Pfizer-BioNTech's Comirnaty vaccine as their second dose, followed by Sinopharm (7%), Sputnik V (6.25%), AstraZeneca (4.5%), Moderna (3.3%) and Janssen (0.3%).
On the fourth and last chart you find that over 35% of people over 60 years of age received Comirnaty as their second dose, followed by Sinopharm (cc. 22%), Sputnik V (cc. 10%), AstraZeneca (7.0%), Moderna (5.0%) and Janssen (1%).
Here are two tables showing how many people per age group have already received their jabs and how many people could still get vaccinated. The percentages show vaccination coverage for the respective age groups, except where indicated.
Cover photo: Getty Images