Covid-19 vaccinations: Bulgaria conditionally re-opens ‘green corridors’

The head of Bulgaria’s Covid-19 vaccination headquarters, Krassimir Gigov, issued an instruction on February 28 to all regional health inspectorates to re-open “green corridors” for all comers, on condition that there are insufficient numbers of people from priority groups who come to be vaccinated.

The instruction was in line with an order issued by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov to Health Minister Kostadin Angelov earlier on February 28, after 52 800 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Bulgaria.

The AstraZeneca doses were distributed to the regional health inspectorates. Bulgarian media reports showed general practitioners in Sofia queueing from early in the morning to collect doses from the capital city’s regional health inspectorate.

Angelov told Borissov that the vaccination plan was proceeding at different speeds in different places, to which Borissov responded that all who were queueing to be vaccinated should be admitted.

Bulgaria last weekend began its “green corridor” system of administering Covid-19 vaccines to all comers, irrespective of category, but the system was suspended on Thursday, with Angelov complaining about shortfalls in deliveries in doses. He singled out AstraZeneca for criticism.

On February 28, Gigov said that interest in being immunised was “extremely high” and there were many waiting to receive vaccines.

A Health Ministry statement said that the ministry distributed vaccines on the basis of population and number of those wanting to be vaccinated.

The statement said that half of the doses received on February 28 are intended for the offices of general practitioners, while the rest are going to vaccination points.

Medicines Agency head Bogdan Kirilov said that a second dose of the BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna vaccines was reserved for everyone who had received a first dose of these vaccines. However, second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines are not being held back, because of the 10-week interval between the first and second doses of this vaccine.

Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kunchev, speaking to Bulgarian National Radio on February 28, said: “We are in the process of morbidity increasing, but the growth rate is low and this allows us to be more democratic in easing measures.

“It is proved that in compliance with the rules, the work of hotels and restaurants in them does not create additional risk. Colleagues from this industry have invested a lot of money and effort to create a safe environment. But if the situation becomes unbearable, we will resort to a new tightening,” Kunchev said, referring to the March 1 re-opening of restaurants and entertainment venues classified under the Tourism Act.

He said that the increase in morbidity was not so much due to the softer or harder measures, observance or non-observance of these measures, as to the presence of the new variant of the virus.

According to Kunchev, the problems in the vaccination process were not caused by the opening of “green corridors” but in delays in deliveries.

Bulgaria began its Covid-19 vaccination drive on December 27. According to the national information system’s daily report on February 28, a total of 209 760 doses of vaccine had been administered in the past two months.

(Photo, of the AstraZeneca vaccines delivered to Bulgaria on February 28: Ministry of Health)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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