Hungary had the fastest vaccination rate in April in the world, researcher says
Three indicators with which Hungary is at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19
1. The fastest vaccination rate in April in the world
In the first half of April, the proportion of those receiving at least one dose of the vaccine increased the most in Hungary worldwide. Although vaccination in the European Union, including Hungary, could only start weeks later (e.g., compared to Great Britain or Israel), with the extraordinary spring result, and especially the April pace, Hungary has made a big step forward in global comparison as well. In the first half of the month, 9.67 percent of the total population received the first dose of the vaccine, with almost a third of all Hungarian citizens receiving the vaccine during this period. Over the same period, 7.85 percent of the population in the United States, 6.29 percent in Germany, 4.56 percent in Austria, and an average of only 3.64 percent in Europe received the vaccine.
Most vaccinations were given on 6th April, and the number of people vaccinated at least partially increased by 104,438 in one day, by more than 1 percent of the total Hungarian population.
2.It is the most multifaceted country in the world regarding the COVID vaccine issue
In most countries in the world, in the context of geopolitical commitments and extreme contradictions, the possibility of vaccine procurement is in fact very limited, and the vaccines tested, licenced and used are typically limited to manufacturers that are military-economic allies. Our previous analysis revealed that in mid-April, there were only 8 countries in the world, including Hungary, where Western, Russian, Chinese and Indian vaccines could be procured in order to advance vaccination as quickly as possible. Contrary to the Hungarian practice, only American-European vaccines and those provided by US military allies in Asia are available following the EU’s central procurement in Brussels, and in a significant part of the post-Soviet countries, only Russian vaccines are available, for example. The states concerned are reluctant to change this practice, despite having been in short supply for months, and the vaccination program is progressing extremely slowly.
3. Ranked first among EU countries among adults vaccinated with at least the first dose
According to the latest data in Hungary, 38.2 percent of the adult population (32 percent of the total population) received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, compared to the EU average of 20.4 percent. Malta, which topped the list for a long time, is currently the second with 36.3, according to the European Union’s official body, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. (Since the vaccination is not yet applicable for children, it is justified to monitor the vaccination coverage of adults, as, in theory, 100% vaccination cannot be achieved for the entire population.)
The proportions differ even more in the study of total vaccination compared to the EU average. In Hungary, 16.4 percent of adults have been fully vaccinated, while the EU average is only 7.8 percent. However, regarding this indicator, Hungary came second after Malta (18.5 percent).
Hungarian vaccination coverage is not only a significant success at EU level, but we are already among the leaders in the list in a global comparison, where Hungary is currently in 10th position. According to the aggregation of the New York Times, one in 200 vaccines administered worldwide has been administered in Hungary (specifically 4.4 million out of 877.9 million).
What figures do not show
The road to a successful performance in a football tournament does not begin with a whistle signalling the first match of the tournament. It requires many years of hard work in youth education, proper selection of players and coaches, stamina, tactics, a well-planned preparation period, and maintaining mental reinforcement until the last second.
A similarly complex process leads to Hungary being involved as effectively as possible in the fight against COVID. If we want to win, we need to identify our strengths and achievements so far, as well as areas that need further work, and to highlight their implications. Milestones are important, but the path to achieving them is particularly important.
The outstanding vaccination result is in itself the result of a complex process. It was necessary to have a sufficient number of vaccines available, that health professionals act to the best of their knowledge, and that the population is also aware of the special importance of their involvement. If one was missing from these three factors, Hungary could not currently be proud of its results. However, none of these critical factors could be taken for granted, they had to be created.
1. Providing the number of vaccines primarily required long-term planning, foresight and taking on some political conflicts by domestic decisionmakers. Had the government not agreed to the delivery of vaccines from the East in addition to EU procurement, and if Chinese and Russian vaccines had not arrived in millions of doses, the number of Hungarians already protected against COVID-19 would have been halved. From a domestic point of view, this is primarily a health and safety issue, but in the current international political context, this has led to disagreements that a government with a different composition or less support would not necessarily have undertaken (see the Slovakian example) or would have been in a significant delay in protecting its citizens (see the Austrian, German, Italian, etc. Sputnik-negotiations).
2. The healthcare system has already demonstrated its capability in recent weeks so that the epidemic and vaccination peaked simultaneously. This required tens of thousands of individual sacrifices, dedication and precise organizational work. The pandemic has highlighted that Hungary is doing well in terms of hospital beds and equipment, but healthcare is not working without people (doctors, residents, nurses and other professionals). That is why the government decided on their historic wage increase last year.
3. The population should also be thanked for their cooperation. So far, 4.2 million adults have registered for vaccination, and according to the CSO survey, there is still a reserve for the vaccination program, many of them are planning to register in the near future. It is particularly gratifying that the population has remained united on the issue of COVID-19 control. However, there was plenty of temptation: to a lesser extent in the form of anti-vaccination movements, to a greater extent in the form of communication by opposition parties. Opposition voters, however, behaved much more soberly than the politicians who were supposed to represent them and based on the facts, made their decision responsibly. For example, in the United States, the country’s population was significantly divided along the lines of control. Based on historical experience, we would not have been surprised by similar processes in Hungary, but the majority of ordinary people came together in the fight against COVID-19. Our former football parallels are not so distant: only sports can usually do the same.