Bulgaria postpones receipt of 2.7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines

Bulgaria’s Cabinet has postponed the country taking receipt of more than 2.7 million doses of the Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech) vaccine against Covid-19 from the second to the third quarter of 2022, according to a government statement on April 20.

The government said that there were more than 2.2 million doses of Comirnaty vaccine in Bulgaria to ensure a continuous vaccination process.

The decision comes against the backdrop of Bulgaria having the lowest rate of vaccination against Covid-19 in the European Union-European Economic Area (EU-EEA).

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) online vaccine tracker, as of April 13, the uptake in the EU-EEA of at least single dose of vaccine was 75.3 per cent, of a completed vaccination 72.5 per cent and of a booster dose, 52.9 per cent.

But the ECDC figures show that in Bulgaria, the uptake at least a single dose is 30 per cent, of completed vaccination 29.6 per cent and of a booster dose, 10.5 per cent.

Starting in 2021, Bulgaria has either donated or re-sold vaccines on a number of occasions, while there have been no official figures recently on vaccines that had to be discarded.

In February 2022, Health Minister Assena Serbezova told Bulgaria’s National Assembly that there were negotiations to donate Covid-19 vaccines to Iran and Uganda.

A delivery of 2.8 million doses of vaccines donated by Bulgaria to Iran took place on April 9. There was no official statement about which brand of vaccines were donated to Iran, but of the vaccines approved for use in the EU, Iran approves the use of AstraZeneca and the single-dose Jannsen.

Not only does Bulgaria have a strikingly low rate of vaccination compared with the EU-EEA average, but also recent weeks have seen the rate slow to a trickle, with daily figures for those who have completed the vaccination cycle dwindling to triple and sometimes double figures.

On March 21, a little more than three months after the current government took office, the Health Ministry said that it was launching an information campaign to promote the benefits of vaccination against Covid-19.

Statistics posted daily by the Health Ministry show that of the Covid-19 deaths in Bulgaria, between eight and nine out of 10 are of people who had not been vaccinated against Covid-19.

(Archive photo: Health Ministry)

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