Hungary COVID-19 death toll over 40,000

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Hungary’s COVID-19 death toll has exceeded 40,000 on 10 January 2022. The Central European country has produced the third highest number of Covid deaths per one million population in the world (disregarding Bosnia and Herzegovina for its small population of 1.5 million). Let’s see how the Top 10 countries in terms of Covid deaths fared in other key metrics of the coronavirus pandemic.
Halott emberek testrészeivel kereskednek, és hatalmasat kaszálnak rajta

Note that the Top 10 excludes countries with populations smaller than four million.

As regards the accumulated number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, Hungary is ranked sixth in the Top 10 countries where SARS-CoV-2 has been the deadliest so far. Note that testing practices greatly determine these rankings, and Hungarian authorities are by far not among the most diligent when it comes to testing the population for coronavirus. In fact, the country is ranked 86th in the world in respect of the number of tests performed per one million population (Worldometers.com). A lot of countries in CEE are in similar spots: Slovenia (83), Croatia (88), Slovakia (89), Romania (90), Serbia (93), Poland (98). Of all these data, it makes the smallest sense to compare countries based on this one.

As regards the case fatality rate (CFR), Hungary is ranked fourth in our Top 10, but it was the No.1 in the world in the summer of 2020 before Peru confessed its official statistics concealed reality.

Given that all of the above figures are closely linked not only to testing practices, but also to how the various contries classify Covid deaths, excess mortality is a better approach if we want to determine how deadly the pandemic actually is. In this metric, Hungary is not among the worst. The final excess mortality data for Hungary for 2021 are to be published by the Central Statistical Office this spring (March or April) at the earliest, though.

In the first 46 weeks, excess mortality was 12.9%.

Biostatistician Tamás Ferenci has pointed out today that Hungary was in the worst third of Europe in terms of excess mortality a month ago.

Of course, one could argue that the situation is even worse in Bulgaria, which is true. But you cannot learn from this. What I say is that we shold look at the Danes, who have managed to deal with the situation since the outbreak with virtually no excess mortality,

he said.

"You can't say Denmark is island country, like Iceland, or that it is far from the epicentre of the pandemic. Obviously there's no strange radiation on the Danish border to stop the virus there. So how come they managed to avoid excess mortality throughout the pandemic? We can learn from thinking about it, not from the fact that there are countries that fared worse than us. And if we don't learn, we won't be able to improve the situation later," he added.

ferenci

Hungary fares rather well in this restricted group in terms of vaccinations, with 63% of the population fully vaccinated (two doses) against COVID-19. However, it has been already proven that the effectiveness of vaccines against infection wanes over time, and that third (booster) doses are particularly crucial against the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Although Hungary does top the rankings in terms of booster doses relative to population, only about one third of Hungarians are protected by three doses.

Hungary is neck and neck with Lithuania as regards initial doses and boosters by 100 people, and Brazil is not far behind them. Yet, both Lithuania and Brazil fared much better at preserving lives than Hungary.

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The last graph shows the tightness of restriction measures governments implemented to stem the spread of coronavirus. Hungary is way below the rest of its ‘teammates’. Way below. This most likely has a lot to do with the fact that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is facing what could be his toughest political challenge yet in this spring’s parliamentary election. Looking at it from another perspective, the country’s score on the Stringency Index also perfectly reflects what people want and that the government has only been letting voters have it their way.

Cover photo: Shutterstock

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