Covid-19 in Bulgaria: 2.5M vaccine jabs possible by end-June under current delivery timetable

Bulgaria could administer coronavirus vaccines to as many as 2.5 million people by the end of June, provided the current timetable for deliveries and expected EU approval for new vaccines holds, the head of Bulgaria’s medicines agency Bogdan Kirilov told a briefing on January 28.

Kirilov said that in the agency’s baseline scenario, with the two vaccines currently approved for use by the EU, it would be possible to vaccinate one million people by the end of June.

“If the Oxford vaccine gets the approval and deliveries begin, by the end of June we should be able to vaccinate two million people by the end of June,” Kirilov said.

“The fourth vaccine, if it is approved in March or April as currently expected, would allow 2.4 million people to get jabs. If the fifth vaccine is approved in April or May, that would mean more than 2.5 million people being vaccinated,” he said.

Kirilov said that under the five existing framework deals struck by the European Commission with pharmaceutical companies, Bulgaria had requested 12 million vaccine doses for 2021.

Talks were under way with a sixth company, with Bulgaria planning to ask for 4.5 million doses. A possible seventh deal could add a further “at least 1.5 million doses” to Bulgaria’s stockpile, Kirilov said.

All the quantities were conditional on receiving approval of the European Medicines Agency – currently, only the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been approved, with a decision on the Oxford-AstraZeneca one expected this week.

It also depended on pharmaceutical companies not encountering production hitches that could disrupt deliveries, he said.

Regarding the number of new coronavirus infections in the country, Bulgaria had one of the lowest morbidity rates in the EU, which was proof that the restrictions imposed by the government were yielding results, Health Minister Kostadin Angelov told the briefing.

“Despite the low strictness index, Bulgaria continues to maintain very good morbidity rates compared to all other European countries, which shows that we are ably managing the pandemic and achieving very good results,” Angelov said.

Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kunchev said that only three districts in the country – Vratsa, Kyustendil and Pleven – were in the “red zone” with morbidity rates over 120 per 100 000 population in the past 14 days.

Six other districts were in the “yellow zone” with morbidity rates of 20 to 60 per 100 000 population over the past two weeks. The rest of the country was in the “orange zone” in between, Kunchev said.

Asked about what could prompt restrictions could be tightened again, Angelov said that the Bulgarian health sector showed it could successfully deal with infection rates of 120 per 100 000 population over a two-week period, but came under strain when the morbidity rate reached 200 per 100 000 population.

He said that the national coronavirus staff would strictly monitor the rolling 14-day averages and should the morbidity rate rise again, the first restrictions to be re-imposed would be the last ones rescinded.

(Photo: Bulgaria’s Military Medical Academy)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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