COVID-19: More than 20,000 new cases in Hungary in a day

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Hungarian authorities diagnosed 20,174 people with SARS-CoV-2 infection, and 69  people died of coronavirus-related diseases in the country over the past 24 hours, koronavirus.gov.hu reported on Wednesday. This is the highest number of daily new cases recorded since the outbreak in the spring of 2020, but considering the rapid spread of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) it should not come as a shock.
kórház beteg ágy covid koronavírus
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The rise in the number of new cases is no surprise, with the rapidly spreading Omicron variant already dominant in Hungary, but what's even more important is the rising number of hospitalised Covid patients. The above table shows weekly changes of 7-day averages, but the day-on-day and week-on-week changes also attest worsening in terms of hospitalisations.

Here's the gist of today's data release:

  • new cases +52% d/d, +35% w/w;
  • 7-day average of new cases +5.2% d/d, +66% w/w;
  • Covid patients in hospital +30 (+1%) d/d, +500 (+19%) w/w;
  • Covid patients on ventilator -8% d/d, -21% w/w;
  • Covid deaths -7% d/d, -19% w/w;
  • Positivity rates still going up.
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As the erratic testing practices have rendered the daily and even the short-term average positivity rates practically useless (the daily percent positive leaped to 76.5%), we need to use longer-term averages to see where the pandemic is headed.

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The key indicators on the graph below are the 7-d / 28-day average and its 7-day average, for two periods: starting from 1 October 2021 and starting from 1 September 2020. Both are at their mid-Nov 2021 levels but have dropped very slightly and steadied.

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The 7-day average has risen to yet a new all-time high!

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The 7-day moving average of new daily COVID-19 cases is going up relentlessly, while the 7-day average of Covid deaths has oddly turned around after rising for about five days.

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The chart below shows the data depicted on the two above, so it's a kind of 4 in 1 chart. When comparing the number of Covid cases and coronavirus-related deaths, one might say: so far, so good. In other words, there are way more cases than a year ago, yet these apparently claim fewer lives. According to various studies, this has to do with immunity gained by vaccination, which means those unvaccinated (some 3.4 million people in Hungary) can still get extremely easily infected, have severe symptoms and die. And the chances of all these happening to them is far greater than for those that have received COVID-19 shots, preferably three doses.

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The situation in hospitals, however, warrant caution and should prevent our optimism from running wild.

On the two 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.

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. As you can see, we are witnessing the latter here, and there was a turnaround in the improvement around 27-29 December (black oval). The number of active cases started to go up at an increasing rate at that time and the pace has only picked up. The changes in terms of hospitalisations and mechanical ventilation have been showing a similar start but then a different and mixed pattern occurred. The ascent of orange curve was first tracked by the blue one but then the change in the number of ventilated patients started to improve.

The left-hand chart shows what happened a year ago. The time series spans between 1 Nov 2020 and 28 Feb 2021, and the same dates in 2021 and 2022 are indicated by the red ovals. The black oval, as noted above, shows when the turnaround this year occurred.

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Whereas there are fewer Covid patients in hospital than a year ago, there are nearly just as many of them on ventilator.

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There are still about 3.4 million Hungarians that have not received a single dose of any COVID-19 vaccine, while about 37% of the population (3.56 mn) have been vaccinated with three doses. Read more about the 'success' of the weekend vaccination campaigns in a separate article here.

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Cover photo: Getty Images

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