Covid-19: Bulgaria’s Health Minister issues assurances on vaccines supply

Bulgaria’s Health Minister Kostadin Angelov said on February 23 that he was satisfied with the pace of the country’s vaccination campaign against Covid-19 and said that logistical issues would be resolved, ensuring no supply problems.

Since February 20, close to 30 000 doses of vaccines against Covid-19 have been administered in Bulgaria, after Prime Minister Boiko Borissov ordered “green corridors” for all who want to be immunised, irrespective of their place in the national vaccination plan.

However, there were snags at the start of the week, when general practitioners were meant to start being involved in administering vaccines, with reports of shortfalls in supply of doses.

Angelov, speaking during a visit to the Haskovo district to inspect the work of mobile vaccination teams, said that the high level of interest among the public in being vaccinated was why vaccines were running out quickly in some places.

“We are doing everything necessary to redirect quantities when we find a shortage at a vaccination point,” he said.

He said that the start of the mass vaccination campaign, that had been planned for the beginning of March, had been brought forward by a week, both because of the large number of people wanting to be immunised and because general practitioners had wanted to quickly get going with vaccinating people from their patient lists.

According to Angelov, the reason for the insufficient quantities provided for GPs was the still small volume of deliveries arriving in Bulgaria.

“We are in talks to get the quantities of the Oxford (AstraZeneca) vaccine expected at the end of the week, delivered earlier, and we also have a plan B for the provision of additional quantities,” he said.

No supply problems were expected and there would be vaccines for all in Bulgaria, Angelov said.

He said that if immunisation continued at the pace set in the past few days “our country will cope with the crisis by midsummer”.

Asked about the plan to allow restaurants to re-open on March 1, Angelov said that this was what his current order said, while adding that decisions on measures follow analysis of the epidemiological situation on a 14-day basis.

Some days ago, Angelov said that the national rate of Covid-19 morbidity reached 200 per 100 000 population, measures would be tightened. However, last week, Borissov spoke of the government keeping to its “commitment” to allow restaurants to re-open at the beginning of next month.

Borissov said on February 23 that in practice, business in Bulgaria was working, pupils were attending classes and restaurants were about to open.

“Disciplined, thinking and intelligent people deserve to lead a normal life. But this must again be with people fully understanding that the pandemic is not over in any way,” Borissov said.

He said that Bulgaria was ready to organise air transport to bring in vaccines. “The goal is to keep the current pace,” he said.

The head of the regional health inspectorate in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia, Dancho Penchev, told Bulgarian National Television in a February 23 interview that in March, everyone would be able to choose with which vaccine to be immunised.

Penchev said that there were no logistical problems regarding vaccines in Sofia.

There were currently more than 5000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine at the inspectorate, while 12 000 doses of the Moderna vaccine were expected on February 25 and about 53 000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of the week. More BioNTech-Pfizer vaccines were expected next week, Penchev said.

He said that more than 500 000 doses, made by various manufacturers, were expected to arrive in Bulgaria in March, which would make it possible for people to choose which one they wanted.

At the Sofia regional health inspectorate and all other health inspectorates, second doses had been set aside and were available, he said.

(Photo via Angelov’s Facebook page)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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