COVID-19: Conflicting data released in Hungary

According to the latest weekly coronavirus statistics published on Wednesday, the number of new cases has dropped, and while there are fewer Covid patients in hospital, the number of those in need of mechanical ventilation (i.e. in serious condition) has risen considerably.
Koronavírus mutáns

Hungary has never been famous for the abundance, accuracy or transparency of its Covid statistics, and the situation was made worse (if that's even possible) when the official government site stopped publishing even the weekly set of data altogether. The site itself is no longer available. It's but a fading (bad) memory by now.

We (i.e. the press) get access to Covid stats via state-run newswire MTI, but the latest set of figures is even more confusing than usual.

The number of new cases dropped by nearly 50% on the seven days up to 17 January, and the number of people treated in hospital with coronavirus infection fell by almost 30% w/w, while the number of Covid deaths jumped by 60% to 51 and there are 70% more patients on ventilator than a week ago.

There are two possible explanations for this. One is that the virus spread fast and is taking a larger-than-usual toll in one or two nursery homes. The second is that the virus has been spreading at a much higher rate than what the official figures show. Of course, the two can be true simultaneously. No testing statistics are ever brought to light and the reporting obligation of hospitals was also watered down.

Without further ado, here are a few graphs than may - after all they're but not very artsy pictures - speak louder than words.


The ratio of people in hospital and on ventilator has risen to an alarming level (to nearly 12% from 5%), and another key indicator of the progress of the pandemic has also started to climb unequivocally.

The following chart uses an indicator conceived by Balázs Pártos, an enthusiast with a medical background who was keeping a very close eye on the pandemic and made rather accurate estimates based on the CFR/OCC ratio. CFR = [deaths / confirmed cases], OCC = [deaths / (deaths + recoveries)]. This may be one of the best (simple) indicators as to where the pandemic is headed.

"In Hungary, the outbreak is currently at a moderate level, due in part to the high level of vaccination," authorities keep saying in every official Covid statistics.

The official statement released today reiterated that the outbreak in Hungary is currently "at a moderate level", thanks in part to the high level of vaccination. 

Well, here's a chart on the "high level of vaccination". The following vaccination rate data should be taken with a pinch of salt. The shots do offer good protection from severe illness and death, but their power to shield you from contracting the virus depends greatly on the type of vaccine - messenger RNA (mRNA), vector, protein subunit vaccine - the recipient's immune system (age, weight, underlying diseases, etc.), the time that elapsed since the last jab was administered, and obviously the number of shots received and immunity gained by infection. It would take a deeper look to determine actually how many Hungarians are well-protected against COVID-19.

The daily average of Covid shots administered was 454 over the seven days up to 17 January. That's not a lot. The highest figure since 10 May was 1,248 in late October, which was most likely a fluke too.

Cover photo: Getty Images


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