BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday that the country’s health care system will withstand pressure from a rising third COVID-19 wave and ramp up inoculations with new vaccine shipments.
Several central European countries have struggled to maintain health care services as the pandemic spreads rapidly, with Slovakia asking for help from EU partners.
As large Chinese and Russian vaccine shipments join Western drugs to help the vaccination effort, Budapest expects to inoculate 1.2 million of its 10 million citizens by early March and 2.5 million by early April, Orban told public radio.
“We are in a moment of danger,” Orban said. With vaccinations and infections “racing along”, he urged citizens to register for vaccinations.
“Then, if we can fight off the third wave, we can reopen the country,” he said.
Hungary has launched a nationwide survey to see if people feel safe resuming social interactions for those who have been inoculated, or prefer to wait until the pandemic is over before curbs are eased.
Hungary will launch a vaccine passport in coming weeks, the government has said, although details are sketchy.
Hungary was the first EU member to secure vaccines from non-Western sources, with the first shipment of Russia’s Sputnik V drug arriving this month and half a million doses of a Chinese vaccine following it on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and John Stonestreet)