Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Next vaccine batch delivery expected on January 4-5

Bulgaria was due to receive the next batch of coronavirus vaccines on January 4-5 2021, Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kunchev said on December 31, at the weekly briefing of the national Covid-19 response staff.

Kunchev said that 25 000 vaccines would be delivered by air and then distributed to all district health inspectorates, in line with their respective allocations under the current vaccination plans.

He said that the jabs would be administered to medical personnel, including pharmacists, dental and general practitioners.

Kunchev said that should a second vaccine receive the approval of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – a decision by the EMA on the Moderna vaccine could come as early as January 6 – Bulgaria could begin vaccination of staff and users of social institutions next month, in parallel with medical personnel.

Asked about vaccinations for people not covered by the Government’s five-phase plan, Kunchev said he was glad that there was an “impatience”, but noted that only one vaccine had been approved by the EMA so far, meaning Bulgaria was only executing one of its contracts with potential vaccine providers.

“I cannot give you an exact date or a month because it depends on the companies receiving the approval [for their vaccines] and then we can begin discussing actual timetables for delivery,” he said.

“But I think in the second or third quarter [of 2021] we will have a significantly higher number of vaccines and greater choice of vaccines.”

After next week’s delivery, the existing timetable envisioned 35 000 vaccines being delivered in mid-January, followed by another 35 000 doses in late January or early February, the head of Bulgaria medicines agency Bogdan Kirilov said.

Bulgaria was showing a downward infections trend but it would take a full week of decreased numbers after the holidays are over before the current anti-epidemic restrictions could be eased, Kunchev said.

One possible change to the restrictions, should the data allow it, would be a partial or full re-opening schools, Education Minister Krassimir Vulchev said.

In other news in Bulgaria on December 31 related to the Covid-19 situation:

Belgium required all arrivals from Bulgaria to enter a seven-day mandatory quarantine, which can be lifted only after a negative PCR test result on the seventh day of self-isolation, Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said.

Should the test prove positive, the quarantine is extended by another seven days. The new rules went into force on December 31 and are currently set to apply until January 15. The regulations do not apply to travellers set to spend less than 48 hours in the country, the ministry said.

Belgium also requires travellers from a country on its “red zone” risk list, which currently includes Bulgaria, to have a negative result on a PCR test done no more than 48 hours before entering Belgium. This rule applies to travellers that do not have permanent residence in Belgium.

The Foreign Ministry said in a separate statement that the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia is requiring travellers from Bulgaria to submit to a coronavirus test within 24 hours of arriving in the state.

This included both rapid antigen and PCR tests, but in the latter case, the persons in question have to self-isolate until they receive the test result.

Travellers can also choose to undergo a test in the 24 hours before arriving in North Rhine-Westphalia, the ministry said. An exemption from this rule was made for transit travellers and transborder workers making daily or weekly trips.

Bulgarian border police stopped two more people that, independent of each other, tried to cross the border into Romania using fake negative PCR test results, Bulgarian National Television reported.

Both cases were on December 29 and were the latest attempts made this month at the Danube Bridge border crossing to use fake proof of negative test results to enter Romania, the report said.

(Bulgaria’s Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kunchev, screengrab via Bulgarian National Television)

For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria, please click here.

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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