COVID-19: Nearly 12,000 new cases, 162 deaths in Hungary on Thursday

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Hungarian authorities diagnosed 11,871 people with COVID-19, and 162 people died of coronavirus-related diseases over the past 24 hours, the official government portal reported on Friday morning. 6,913 people with coronavirus infection are in hospital, with 695 of them on ventilator.
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Let's start with our usual snapshot. The daily figures we used previously have been changed to 7-day averages to make comparison smoother and more accurate.

The daily test positivity rate came in at 24.08% (close to 23.04% recorded a day earlier), as the number of daily tests is now close to 50,000. With a similar number of tests, the percent positive was betweem 19 and 21% five to seven days ago. The return to this range is reassuring after a spike to over 32.5% on 23 Nov.

As you can see on the charts below, the 3-day / 21-day test positivity rate dipped to under 100% three times, but that has to do with the reporting hiatus on the weekend, and it is still as high as 113%. If we want to be certain that the key epidemiological figures are starting to improve, the 7-day average of the 3-d/21-d positivity rate would need to go south of the 100% mark. It is currently 108.1%, down from 116.2% a week ago, and well under 160% recorded in late October.

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Estimating Covid fatalities

Based on the number of daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases we have presented a simple model by which we can estimate how many daily Covid deaths we could have in 20 days. The updated projections are in the table below.

It is a generally accepted and proven fact worldwide that the number of COVID-19 fatalities tracks changes in the number of daily new confirmed cases with a cc. 20-day delay. The model is exceedingly simple: we divide the number of new cases reported today (for the previous day) with the number of daily cases reported 20 days earlier, and multiply this figure with the number of deaths reported today. That should be roughly the number of deaths authorities will report 20 days from now.

How can we check that this is not a bad model? Again, simple. Just take a look at the facts. How do the number of deaths 20 days ago compare with the number of deaths today? What is the multiplier in that case? Is it close to the multiplier we are using now to estimate the number of deaths 20 days ahead?

Let's see: 96 deaths on 5 November compared with 162 deaths reported for 25 November: 162 / 96 = 1.68. The multiplier used today was 1.75. With a 1.68 multiplier we would get 273 deaths (-4.0%) forecasted for 15 Dec.

Let's apply the same verification for the 7-day averages. 155 / 69 = 2.25. The multiplier is the same we used today.

Note that these are all mortality data to be reported by the official government portal. The mortality stats of the Central Statistical Office (KSH) to be published (several months) later will show a lot more deaths. Needless to say, there is no way to forecast the number of Covid deaths with pinpoint accuracy, but these forecasts should at least give us an idea of what is to come.

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Key metrics keep worsening - 2021 vs. 2020

The tables below show how the changes in the number of daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations and the number of ventilated Covid patients in 2021 and 2020. From the comparison of daily figures we have switched to lining up 7-day averages. This is to avoid distortions caused by comparing weekdays with weekend days when authorities do not publish statistics, and the aggregate data released on Mondays have to be distributed for three days with a certain methodology.

In the top chart we compared the figures of 25 November to one, two, three, and four weeks earlier. The second chart shows the week-on-week changes. The red cells make it evident that the epidemiological situation has been worsening at a more alarming rate in almost every aspect than in the base period.

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How is the situation in hospitals?

The number of Covid patients admitted to hospitals and needing mechanical ventilation has been on the rise for a while now, and they are already at late April levels.

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On the charts below the 0% line is important. When the curves are under 0% there’s a decline, when they go over 0% it’s an increase. The changes show that the situation in terms of hospitalisations started to worsen after 20 August.

More importantly, when a value is north of 0% but the curve descends, it means an increase at a slowing rate, rather than a decrease. If the curve is above 0% and ascending, it is an increase at an accelerating rate. When we are under 0% and the curve goes lower, it translates into an accelerating decrease, and when it goes up it marks a decelerating decrease.

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And this graph shows the change of the changes.

The number of Covid patients in hospital and of those on ventilator grow almost fully synchronously, apart from a period between mid-September and end-October. In that period there was not enough room for Covid patients and that is why there were many on ventilator relative to the number of Covid patients hospitalised. Then Covid capacities were added to the system and the 'link' was back the way it was before.

The same can be observed at the charts below, only with ratios. The share of those in hospital to the number of active cases has come down from its peak because daily testing picked up, and while there are more and more people with coronavirus infection in hospital, the number of active cases has been growing at a higher rate. And the ventilated / in hospital ratio has also come lower and steadied due to the aforementioned reason.

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Vaccination campaign in progress

The government launched a one-week vaccination campaign on Monday where Hungarians only need to show up and take a jab, without prior online registration or booking an appointment in advance. The campaign was actually announced two and half weeks earlier, and a waiting period this long is incomprehensible. A total of 131,000 doses of five different COVID-19 vaccines were administered yesterday, which certainly gives a boost to the lacklustre pace of new vaccinations, but the results will be palpable only in the 'fifth wave' of the coronavirus pandemic, not in this one.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has today announced a one-week extention of the programme.

The cabinet continues to bet on vaccination. Whereas the extension of the 'vaccination week' by seven days is welcome, seeing the success of it makes you wonder why cannot this measure be permanent? Why return to the pre-registration, appointment-booking practice at all? It has become clear that the hassle prevents a lot of Hungarians from getting their shots, and this is particularly true in the less developed regions of the country.

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