Bulgaria: First deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines ‘expected to begin on December 27’

The first deliveries to Bulgaria of vaccines against Covid-19 are expected to take place from December 27 to 29, Professor Krassimir Gigov, head of the country’s national vaccination headquarters, told Bulgarian National Radio on December 6.

He said that the five-phase plan for vaccinations (approved by Bulgaria’s Cabinet on December 4, as The Sofia Globe reported) would be implemented in parallel, not in sequence.

The initial delivery will be of 125 000 vaccines. Given that each person should receive a vaccination twice, that means that initially about 62 500 people would be vaccinated.

The first 125 000 doses will be for people working in critical sectors.

Gigov said that Bulgaria had sufficient refrigerators to store the doses.

“Vaccination will start as soon as the vaccines arrive at the end of the month,” he said.

“The risk is much greater than the benefit of not getting the vaccine,” Gigov said.

“Today we have methods that can assess the effectiveness and toxicity of a vaccine much faster. Science is constantly advancing. No company could afford to launch a risky product … Let’s believe in science.”

As various government officials have underlined repeatedly, Gigov said that the vaccines would be free of charge. Bulgaria’s government also has repeatedly underlined that vaccination will be voluntary, not mandatory.

Gigov said that Bulgaria might introduce a requirement that those arriving in the country from abroad must have been vaccinated.

Separately, Professor Todor Kantzardzhiev, head of the National Centre for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases and a member of Bulgaria’s national headquarters against Covid-19, said that by December 20 it would be known whether it would be possible for two to three families to gather together for the holidays.

Current heightened restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19, put in place on November 27, are in effect until December 21.

Kantardzhiev told Bulgarian National Television on December 6 that at the moment, the results this week were quite favourable, with a 20 to 25 per cent reduction in cases in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia over a 14-day period. This was thanks to the measures and the behaviour of the public, he said.

Commenting on those who oppose vaccination, he said: “A gentleman who is not a doctor talks about the side effects of vaccines. If you are not a doctor, how will you talk about epidemiology?”

Society had matured in its attitudes towards the disease “but through a difficult path, when knowing about deceased relatives, colleagues, acquaintances”.

“There could have been far fewer deaths if we hadn’t mocked the doctors and had worn masks in September. I don’t know why people were so deceived.”

Alexander Andreev, head of the Central Election Commission, told Bulgarian National Radio that unless legislation was amended, people in quarantine would not be able to vote in the parliamentary elections in spring 2021.

“Mobile ballot boxes do not allow quarantined people to vote. Postal voting, early voting, the use of electronic devices are alternative ways in other countries, but we must comply with our Electoral Code. Legislative change is needed,” he said.

Postal voting would require the active registration of voters in order to receive the voting documentation in advance, Andreev said.

Given the pandemic situation, it was impossible to predict voter turnout, he said.

The Sofia Globe’s coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria is supported by the Embassies of Switzerland and Finland.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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