More than 1.3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 delivered to Bulgaria have been scrapped, and in all so far the country has scrapped just more than 2.3 million doses of vaccines against Covid-19, caretaker Health Minister Assen Medzhidiev said on February 27.
In the current year 2023, nearly 2.8 million doses are to be scrapped, Medzhidiev said.
In addition to these, more than 650 000 doses have an expiry date of January/February 2024 and given the fact that the quantities of vaccines against Covid-19 many times exceed the demand and needs of the country, it is already clear at this stage that these will also be scrapped, he said.
Medzhidiev said said that booster doses will be delivered in 2023, but in Bulgaria vaccination coverage is only 30 per cent, meaning that it was not rational to order full quantities of booster doses because there was really no way that they would be administered.
Medzhidiev was speaking in a conference call with European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides, the Health Ministry said.
“We state again that we have an excessive number of vaccines, low vaccination coverage, and a lack of takers and the possibility of donations or resale,” he said.
Further receipt of and payment for vaccines that Bulgaria would end up scrapping, or even paying a refusal fee, was “irrational,” Medzhidiev said.
He said that this was why Bulgaria was continuing to insist on renegotiation of the terms of the contract concluded between the European Commission and Pfizer for 2022-2023, with the possibility of cancelling the contract on grounds of force majeure for the member states that have reported this.
“We expect the European Commission, as a negotiator on behalf of the EU member states, to take into account all the specifics. Bulgaria fully trusted the European Commission for this process, as our representative.
“At the same time, an authorised representative is obliged to comply with the requests of the member state that have placed their trust in it, and now, once again, a solution is proposed that contradicts our interests,” Medzhidiev said.
Bulgaria had made clear proposals “and we expect working solutions that will not lead to an additional financial burden for all of us. Any additional payment will represent a new obligation for the member states,” he said.
He said that the lack of flexibility in the contracts was a significant difficulty, as well as that the epidemic situation has changed and this should be taken into account by all parties, including the manufacturers.
“All my actions are in the interest of the Bulgarian citizens and I will defend them to the end,” he said.
“We understand that we are talking about bilateral agreements, but here we need a unified decision at the EU level, because the reputational risks are great not only for Bulgaria and for all member states, but also for the European Commission.
“There is no way to explain to the public why huge financial resources are being given to vaccines that we all know will be destroyed,” Medzhidiev said.
If Medzhidiev’s figures are correct, Bulgaria will end up throwing away more doses of vaccines against Covid-19 than it has administered.
According to the unified information portal’s report on February 27, so far a total of 4 608 622 doses of vaccines against Covid-19 have been administered in Bulgaria.
Of Bulgaria’s population of more than 6.5 million people, a total of 2 075 993 have completed the vaccination course. A total of 943 403 have received a booster dose.
To date, there have been 1 296 668 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Bulgaria, according to the figures posted on the portal. Bulgaria’s Covid-19 death toll is 38 211.
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