Hungary’s prime minister has said Covid-19 restrictions could be eased in the summer if the country succeeds in vaccinating the elderly. He added that Budapest needs a replacement for the vaccines underdelivered by AstraZeneca.
“There is a good chance we will be able to reopen schools. Young people should be patient and help with the defense [against the virus], and then there is a good chance we will have a [restriction] free summer,” Orban told Kossuth Radio on Friday.
The government has extended coronavirus restrictions for another week, starting from Monday. The PM said quarantine measures could start to be relaxed once the number of vaccinated people rises from around 1.5 million to 2.5 million, and all residents over the age of 65 receive the vaccine.
The daily death toll from Covid-19 has reached 213, a record high, while 1,174 patients remain on ventilators, and more than 9,000 are hospitalized.
“We have not seen so many unhappy people in Europe until now, [and] we Hungarians are also mentally worn out,” Orban said, arguing that a “spiritual restart” is needed.
Hungary has been very critical of the EU’s vaccine procurement, arguing that Brussels has failed to make enough vaccine available for the bloc’s member states. Orban stressed that in the next two months the country will receive 500,000 fewer doses from the British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca, so Budapest needs to secure the same amount elsewhere.
Hungary authorized the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine and the vaccine developed by Chinese company Sinopharm, defying EU recommendations to wait for their approval by the bloc’s regulator. Hungarian officials deflected criticism by insisting that vaccination strategies should not be politicized.
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