Photo: MTI / Lajos Soós

Plenty of free capacity available in health care

Hungary's health-care system is able to meet increased case loads as there are plenty of unused beds, and every patient in need will get quality care, the head of the prime minister's office said of the protection efforts against the coronavirus epidemic on Thursday.

Gergely Gulyas told a regular government press briefing that the current restrictions will remain unchanged until next week.

The number of new infections either dropped or hovered between 3,000 and 5,000 every day last week, with the exception of Thursday, when mass testing started in certain sectors, he said. The government will assess the results of the latter next week, and the current measures will be maintained until then, he added.

The government plans to publish the results concerning the testing of social workers, health-care staff and teachers this weekend, he said.

Gulyas said access to a vaccine against the coronavirus was on the horizon and a vaccine was in its final phase of testing.

The government aims to acquire the vaccine from whatever source becomes available, he said. Only those products that are tested, approved and registered by the Hungarian authorities can be used in Hungary, he added. This applies to vaccines from the European Union as well as those developed in the US, Israel, China and Russia, he said.

Vaccination against the coronavirus will be available on a voluntary basis and free of charge, Gulyas said.

He confirmed that Hungary’s government has made arrangements to buy more than 12 million doses of coronavirus vaccine developed in the US and Europe and talks are under way with Russian, Israeli and Chinese developers.

The licensing procedure is at the most advanced stage in China, while Pfizer has stated that testing was in an advanced stage but supplies will initially go the the US rather than Europe, he said. In such cases, half of the advance payment is redeemable, he added.

Gulyas said “this also shows that one cannot expect solidarity” and just like in the case of ventilator acquisitions during the spring, everybody is buying products from wherever they are available. The countries where they are developed have an insurmoutable advantage in getting the products first, he added.

On another subject, Gulyas said the Hungarian government continued to reject attempts to tie European Union funding to “politically motivated conditions”.

Gulyas said Hungary would refuse to submit to curbing its sovereign independence when it came to important issues, even if that meant hindering the EU’s multiannual budget and its recovery fund, Gulyas said.

He said Hungary was currently getting an annual net 4 billion euros from the EU while EU companies were taking 6 billion euros of profits out of Hungary each year. Contrary to claims, especially suggested by opposition parties in Hungary, that the country was getting a charitable donation from the EU, the Europeans were getting significant profits through these companies. The companies are indeed introducing modern technologies and work ethics in Hungary, so it is a mutually beneficial, win-win situation, he added.

Gulyas said that in order to preserve this situation, the current regulations need to be maintained and the status quo preserved.

“We do not owe anybody anything for receiving EU resources,” he said. “It is our money; money due to us regardless,” he added.

He said that linking the payment of EU support to rule of law conditions went against the Lisbon Treaty. The Lisbon Treaty includes an Article 7 procedure, and if rule-of-law issues are raised, they can be cleared as part of such a procedure, he added.

Regarding “political conditionality”, Gulyas said financier George Soros’s article this week on the Project Syndicate website had made clear that the political condition for EU funding was acceptance of immigration. “Hungary continues to reject that,” Gulyas said.

Hungary is fighting for the right of all future governments to freely decide whom Hungarians want to live with in their country, he said.

He added that experiences from recent years suggested that Brussels only considered countries that failed to protect their borders and allowed migrants in as upholders of the rule of law.

Hungarians, he said, had clearly made a decision to reject immigration in a referendum as well as the general election, he said.

Gulyas said it was demonstrative of press freedom in the West that a portal that had published a commentary by Soros refused to publish Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s response. It would be worth discussing why the western media was in a much worse situation as far as diversity is concerned than the Hungarian and central European media, he added.

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