Bulgaria’s GPs complain of shortfalls in Covid-19 vaccine supplies

The National Association of General Practitioners in Bulgaria has complained in a succession of two open letters to Health Minister Kostadin Angelov about the negligible amounts of Covid-19 vaccines received by GPs and the “unclear logic” of vaccine distribution.

GPs find it extremely demotivating that while they are waiting for vaccine deliveries, large amounts are provided to other vaccination points, after which they are refused for lack of supplies, or get just one vial, according to the correspondence posted on the association’s website.

They urged Angelov that vaccines be delivered to GPs as a priority, to ensure the immunisation of those of their patients who had registered to be vaccinated.

Radio Plovdiv interviewed Dr Nikolai Vlahov, a GP in the city, who said that with every promise of a new shipment, a “cascade” of phone calls begins from people saying that there were vaccines and they wanted to be vaccinated.

“Usually my answer is that no vaccines have reached me. Arguments begin that this is impossible, but the reality is just that,” Vlahov said.

He said that some patients accused GPs of not wanting to vaccinate them.

“The reports in the media that there are vaccines, but in practice we do not have them, create unnecessary tension between patients and general practitioners,” he said.

On March 2, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television said that on the third day after the re-opening of the “green corridors” for all who want vaccinations against Covid-19, interest in them continued to be huge.

The report said that at St Ivan Rilski hospital, doses of vaccines had run out. A further delivery was expected, but not today.

According to BNT, doses ran out on March 1 at Pirogov emergency hospital within hours, while at the Military Medical Academy, “green corridors” opened after the delivery of AstraZeneca vaccines.

At Alexandrovska Hospital, there were supplies of vaccines for today and tomorrow, the report said.

As reported on March 1, in places in Bulgaria including Plovdiv and Veliko Turnovo, “green corridors” remain closed for the rest of this week because there are insufficient supplies of vaccines to immunise all comers.

In other news in Bulgaria on March 2 related to the Covid-19 situation:

Sofia municipality said that on March 1, more than 1000 inspections for compliance with anti-epidemic measures were carried out at restaurants, food and non-food stores.

As of March 1, restaurants in Bulgaria were allowed to re-open.

The municipality said that the inspections involved checking whether rules about physical distancing, the distance between tables and the wearing of protective masks by restaurant employees, and at shops by staff and customers, were kept to.

The statement said that joint teams of police and health inspectorate officials had issued 27 fines and 110 warning protocols.

Sofia municipal inspectorate teams had inspected 898 places in the city and issued two fines.

The statement said that by order of Health Minister Angelov, the number of beds in Sofia for treatment of patients with Covid-19 had been increased.

Representatives of one of Bulgaria’s tourism industry associations, “Future for Tourism” held a protest in front of the Cabinet building on March 2, demanding various types of state aid because of the Covid-19 crisis.

Their main demands were a reduction of value-added tax on tourism services to five per cent for the next two years, as well as an extension of the term for reimbursement of prepaid amounts for trips abroad that had been cancelled.

However, the protest was rejected by another of the tourism industry’s bodies, the Association of Bulgarian Tour Operators and Travel Agents, which said that the “Future for Tourism” demands, if implemented, would create inequalities in the sector.

A March 2 statement by Bulgaria’s Ministry of Tourism said that the ministry had started paying out state aid from a budget of 51 million leva (about 26 million euro) for tour operators and travel agencies.

Applications opened on February 8 and close on May 31.

The ministry said that 579 applications had been received so far, for a sum of a little more than 31.6 million leva.

The evaluation commission at the ministry has prepared the documents with which the transfers of sums to companies with proper documents can start, the statement said.

Companies may receive one-off grants equivalent to four per cent of their turnover without VAT in 2019, as recorded in their financial statements under the Accounting Act.

The ministry said that the assistance provided is to compensate for losses by tour operators and travel agents between March 1 and December 31 2020, and must be used as a matter of priority to reimburse amounts to customers who packages were cancelled because of Covid-19 during that time.

(Archive photo: Sofia municipality)

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

The Sofia Globe has no connection whatsoever to any Bulgarian government or state institution, nor to any Bulgarian political, business or media grouping. If you would like to support independent coverage of Bulgaria, please consider supporting The Sofia Globe via its Patreon account, for as little as three euro a month, or the equivalent in other major currencies:

Become a Patron!

The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to sofiaglobe.com's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage. https://www.patreon.com/user?u=32709292