Prime minister Viktor Orbán – Photo: PMO

Orbán: Experts support 4th dose

Experts have proposed that the government support the promotion of a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine, which is now available for anyone after a consultation with their GP, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Friday.

The fourth dose can be taken four months after the third, and it is highly recommended after six months, Orbán said in an interview to public broadcaster Kossuth Radio.

The vaccine will be available on Fridays and Saturdays in January in hospitals and in major GP surgeries under a simplified system, with no need for an appointment, he said. GPs will also administer vaccines on weekends this month, he said.

Hungary’s public services and health-care system are prepared to inoculate all citizens, he said. Over 2 million Pfizer and 700,000 Moderna vaccines are at hand, he said.

Experts agree that Omicron is much weaker than previous variants of the virus, “but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protect ourselves”, Orbán said, calling on Hungarians to accept the next dose whatever their vaccination status.

Meanwhile, the quarantine period will be cut to seven days, and it can be exited after five days in possession of a negative test, he said.

“Last year’s Christmas was almost the way one imagines it,” he said, with families coming together, albeit “under the shadow of the pandemic”. He praised Hungary’s “fantastic hospital capacities, especially in terms of human resources”. Currently, 2,611 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised and 243 are intubated on ventilators, with over 10,000 beds available, he said.

Regarding current economic issues, Orbán said the inflation plaguing Europe was “pushing the economy off track”. Hungary’s government is working to soften the blow by raising wages and pensions and by capping prices where possible, he said.

Besides cutting utility fees, the government has capped fuel prices, he noted. This week, it capped the prices of basic food at the level of October prices and will take steps to ensure those products are available in shops, he said. By the time this measure runs out in 90 days, European inflation will hopefully also subside, he said.

At the same time, the next steps from Brussels are unpredictable as “they are ruled by dogmatic market ideologies rather than common sense,” he said. “While I accept many of those dogmas, they cannot be used exclusively,” Orbán said.

Besides the rules of the market, the government must also take into account “considerations of the entire population and society,” Orbán said.

The prime minister said that in critical situations the main question was “to what extent is it good to interfere in the operation of the economy”.

“The cabinet has at its disposal methods to raise wages and pensions and keep control over price increases,” he said, adding that he was prepared to defend such measures in Brussels.

Meanwhile, he said the security of Hungarian families was a government priority.

“Attacks from Brussels connected with measures affecting families will be forthcoming, but these can be thwarted partly by relying on European regulations that also guarantee our rights and partly because Hungarians have proved in the past ten-plus years that we are not timid and we will protect our interests,” Orbán said.

Hungary is a free country where adults can choose their way of life, but parents’ rights must be respected when it comes to how they want to raise their children in such sensitive areas as sexuality, he said. Germany is a civilised country, yet a paedophile network of several hundred members was recently uncovered there, Orbán said. “Hungarian laws handle such issues well,” he added.

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