Bulgaria Last in EU- Lagging Behind in Vaccination with Less Ordered Quantities
Bulgaria will have to make some extraordinary effort in the coming months if it wants to protect its population from the coronavirus through vaccination.
Current data show that Boyko Borissov's government has bought such a small number of doses that no more than 36% of Bulgarians could receive two doses at the end of June.
This is showed a document circulating in the EU Vaccination Board, which demonstrates the different speeds of vaccination campaigns in different EU countries based on the type and quantities of doses each country has ordered so far.
The document shows the consequences for individual countries relying on specific and cheaper vaccines such as Astra Zeneca jab and others, which ordered everything they were entitled from all manufacturers, after which they continued to buy exempted quantities refused from other countries (like Bulgaria) based on EU mechanism of distribution.
The publication in Czech paper deals with the actions of the Czech government of Andrei Babish, who joined with Borissov and several other countries lagging behind in vaccination in a letter requesting the urgent addition of a new dose distribution mechanism.
European Commission in response stated that these few countries including Bulgaria, simply gave up part of the quantities they were assigned to as a share of the EU population. After this the rest from each order was distributed among others wishing to pay immediately.
So far, neither the Minister of Health Kostadin Angelov nor the Bulgarian representative in the Vaccination Board Ventsislav Mutafchiiski have answered whether Bulgaria has given up some of the Bulgarian shipments and how much of them have actually been paid.
The European Commission concludes contracts with manufacturers, but the vaccines themselves are the property of the Member States and specific orders are made by their governments.
According to the list of the Ministry of Health, as of February 10, Bulgaria will receive 3,898,694 doses of the Pfizer / Biontech vaccine by the end of 2021, sufficient for 1,949,347 people. These are the quantities assigned to Bulgaria as percentage of EU population.
These are almost half of the people needed to achieve collective immunity (70% of adults), but in the column "Requested quantities from Bulgaria" the document says simply "Yes", without specific orders.
The same goes for the other "cold" vaccine - Moderna: 960,000 doses for 480,000 people. Both vaccines have a relatively short time between the two doses - less than 1 month, while that of AstraZeneca it is 10-12 weeks, ie. and the desired effect will be obtained later.
The document from EU Vaccination Board, the authenticity of which was confirmed by two people familiar with the negotiations, shows huge differences at the national level - from 36% estimated vaccinated in the middle of the year in Bulgaria and Croatia to 79% in Denmark and 92% in Malta.
Based on the equal initial participation of all countries, there is no other way to explain it, except some countries took a chance by betting on a specific (but delayed) product and secondary distribution of doses, from the quantities which the countries with lower indicators have given up.
Inequality of vaccines distribution is not about rich and poor EU countries, but about political decisions. Romania, for example, will be able to vaccinate 56% of its citizens, placing it immediately behind Germany, France and Finland.
A richer Czech Republic will be able to cover no more than 44%.
The data in the document are based on the promise of the manufacturers. The end result may be different, because everyone announced problems with timely implementation of commitments in the beginning, they are still serious for almost everyone and especially AstraZeneca, but Pfizer produces more than originally promised.
EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton told TF1 over the weekend that there would be 300-350 million new doses for the EU between March and June, and achieving collective immunity by mid-July seemed achievable.
But in the case of countries like Bulgaria and Czech Republic, for example, this is questionable because they has orders less doses of what was provided for them in initial quotas.
Some other countries like Romania, Spain, Belgium and France which have pledged to buy everything available seem to do well so far.
The Czech Republic turned out to have ordered everything from its quota for Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna, but did not buy quantities released from countries such as Bulgaria and Slovakia, which went for vaccination of the Danes, Maltese, Germans and Swedes.
Several prominent economists and analysts in Brussels have commented that this policy of some member states is “very stupid” because it has saved money on a relatively expensive vaccine, but the economic damage from infecting and killing thousands and thousands of people and blocking the country is much, much greater.
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