Testing will not stop the spread of coronavirus, Hungarian Chief Medical Officer says

2020.03.30. 14:04

Testing will not stop the spread of the virus, Hungarian Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller has said at the daily press conference of the Hungarian government's coronavirus task force on Monday.

Müller informed that the virus is still in community spread, but the stage of mass infections could be here anytime, "we are somewhere on the threshold," Müller said. The main goal of epidemiological measures is to flatten the curve in order to avoid too many simultaneous cases overwhelming the healthcare system, Müller explained, assessing that this was a success.

Currently, there are 447 confirmed coronavirus cases in Hungary, 34 people have recovered, 15 have died, but so far, doctors have only taken 13 301 samples taken for testing, but it is unclear how many people these samples were taken from, as our question was left unanswered at the press conference. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has advised taking the number of confirmed cases with a grain of salt, as the actual number of people who have contracted the disease could be way higher. Mass testing is not to be expected though, as, on Monday, Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller has said:

"There is no test that can stop the spread of the epidemic, or one that can have influence on that in any way."

Müller explained that they cannot "just order testing," instead, the decision to test somebody for coronavirus is a "medical decision" made by general practitioners and paramedics and reminded that calling the GP is still the protocol if somebody suspects they have COVID-19.

The Chief Medical Officer said that pharmaceutical companies rushed to create tests to detect COVID-19, but many of these are unapproved, and they all have their limitations. The National Health Centre and the seven accredited laboratories in Hungary are conducting tests that show whether or not the genetic material is present in the swabs taken from patients' throats and noses. These tests show if the virus is present in the patient at the time the sample was taken, but do not provide accurate information during the incubation period which could be as long as two weeks. 

The other type of test, Müller said, is even more uncertain: serological tests detect the antibodies produced by the body against the coronavirus in the bloodstream, they only show whether or not the virus has been present in the patients' system and that their immune system has kicked in, but they do not inform about the current condition. In conclusion, Müller said:

testing provides information but does not serve the purpose of stopping the disease as much as a usual quick test would.

For our complete English coverage of the epidemiological situation in Hungary, see our file:

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