PM Orban: We need a vaccine, because it means life

Viktor Orban (Photo: V4 Agency)

By: V4 Agency

Hungarian people cannot die simply because Brussels’ procurement is slow. We need to get a vaccine, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told Hungary’s public radio in his Friday morning interview.

Speaking about last night’s EU summit, Viktor Orban explained that Brussels’ political culture employs a language that may be strange to Hungarians. We cannot start by addressing the problem at hand, we first have to praise the EU and the country, and only then can we start talking about the issue.

The Hungarian prime minister recalled that more people have been vaccinated in Israel and Russia than in the EU, and referred to the Polish prime minister, who wanted to know that if AstraZeneca’s vaccine was good for the Brits,  then why would it not be approved by the EU. Mr Orban emphasized that Hungarians cannot die simply because Brussels’ vaccine procurement is slow.

“Vaccine is life itself. The sooner we have a vaccine, the more people we can protect. Every life matters,” he declared.

He said what is needed now is the vaccine, not explanations. Europe’s unity is important, but as it is unacceptable that procurement in Brussels is sluggish, we need to negotiate with everyone, he added.

According to Hungary’s premier some companies store millions of vaccines in their warehouses, but Brussels does not issue the permit, even though many have already received the jab.

PM Orban said he did not want to fight with the Brussels lot. This is not about a political struggle, but about people’s lives and Hungary. He said once the crisis is over, it would be time for member states to examine whether it was a good decision to entrust vaccine procurement to Brussels.

He said Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto was in Moscow today, making arrangements for the Russian vaccine, and China will dispatch vaccines as soon as an emergency authorisation for Hungary is received. PM Orban underlined that inoculation using the Chinese vaccine already began in Serbia’s Vojvodina region, so experts needn’t travel far to be able to test and study it.

Orban Viktor said the restrictions can only be lifted once mass inoculation is in place. Life can only return to normal if Hungary’s healthcare workers, the residents of care homes, people with underlying conditions, those working in the frontline against the pandemic and the elderly – who are not chronically ill – have all been inoculated. All this depends on vaccines, Mr Orban said, stressing that it’s now a question of how many vaccines doses Hungary can get.

Viktor Orban urged everyone to comply with the rules, pointing out that they proved effective during the first wave of the pandemic.

Regarding the economy, Hungary’s premier stressed that its key foundation was work, adding that the number of employed is up 4 thousand compared to the last December before the pandemic. Hungary’s pandemic response is focused on preserving jobs, he said, stressing the need to reduce taxes in times of crisis. He recalled that the crisis management carried out by Hungary’s left-wing governments was based on a conviction that they need to buy up banks and companies. In order to do that, they needed to withdraw or regroup resources from people, which hasn’t worked, he said.

He said the government was implementing the country’s biggest ever home purchase subsidy scheme and a historic wage hike for doctors in times of crisis, while plans are afoot to exempt young people from paying income tax and the 13th month pension is also being reintroduced. The Hungarian government is also considering whether people would need some type of certificate to allow those who had recovered from Covid-19 or had themselves inoculated to claim more holidays. This debate will become more meaningful, however, once 1 million people will have been inoculated, PM Orban said. As to border crossings, he stressed that there is a big debate in the EU about the introduction of a vaccine passport, but there are no concrete answers yet.