Bulgaria is in the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on March 4, urging the public to keep to the anti-epidemic measures and expressing frustration that the previous day’s Liberation Day public holiday had seen people crowding in outdoor public places.
“Although the media explains so much and you see what is happening in other countries, what severe bans on leaving home there are, yesterday it was still crowded with people,” Borissov said.
“I can’t understand it, if we are not explaining that the pandemic is in its third wave, in full swing,” he said.
The beginning of March saw Borissov’s government easing several measures, including allowing the re-opening of restaurants, while recent weeks have seen a gradual increase in Covid-19 cases, which the authorities are blaming on the UK variant of the virus.
“This is the attitude of the people and I don’t know who suggests to them that everything has passed. Yes, we allowed everything to work, at the moment the pandemic is under control,” Borissov said at a meeting with Health Minister Kostadin Angelov and other senior health care officials.
Borossov said that vaccinations would continue, solely with vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency. “We cannot be held responsible for others,” he said.
Angelov told Borissov that on a national basis, occupancy of beds in Covid-19 wards for patients not needing intensive care was 48 per cent, while 57 per cent of intensive care beds in the country were occupied.
“We have made arrangements to increase the percentage of beds in all medical institutions where necessary. We believe that at this moment the epidemic is under control,” Angelov said.
He said that Bulgaria expects to receive more vaccine doses next week, and expressed hope that the manufacturers would fulfil the signed contracts so that the phases of Bulgaria’s national vaccination plan against Covid-19 could be implemented.
In other news on March 4 related to the Covid-19 situation:
Health authorities in Bulgaria’s Kurdzhali district reported an increase in the incidence of new coronavirus, with occupancy of Covid-19 beds in the hospital at 85 per cent, while a further 16 are to be opened in the second internal disease ward.
At this stage, the health facilities in the region have the necessary equipment, medicines and personal protective equipment to deal with the situation, the statement said.
On March 4, pupils in the sixth, ninth and 12th grades in Bulgaria returned to in-person classes, as part of a system of rotating education between in-person classes and distance learning for different grades for a fortnight at a time.
Pupils in the fifth, 10th and 11th grades went over to distance learning.
A final decision on the dates of the spring school holiday is expected by the end of the week.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on March 4 that its human medicines committee (CHMP) has started a rolling review of Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac), a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Russia’s Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology. The EU applicant for this medicine is R-Pharm Germany GmbH.
The CHMP’s decision to start the rolling review is based on results from laboratory studies and clinical studies in adults, the statement said. These studies indicate that Sputnik V triggers the production of antibodies and immune cells that target the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and may help protect against Covid-19.
The EMA said that it would evaluate data as they become available to decide if the benefits outweigh the risks. The rolling review will continue until enough evidence is available for formal marketing authorisation application.
“EMA will assess Sputnik V’s compliance with the usual EU standards for effectiveness, safety and quality. While EMA cannot predict the overall timelines, it should take less time than normal to evaluate an eventual application because of the work done during the rolling review.”
The EMA will communicate further when the marketing authorisation application for the vaccine has been submitted, the statement said.
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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