EU Commissioner Stella Kyriakides on Official Visit to Bulgaria, Talks EU COVID Certificate
Sofia, June 17 (BTA) - The success of the vaccination campaign
against COVID-19 depends on the ability to choose between
vaccines, as well as people's belief in the vaccines' short- and
long-term safety, said President Rumen Radev here on Thursday
during his meeting with visiting European Commissioner for
Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides, Radev's Press
Commissioner Kyriakides noted that broadening national
vaccination campaigns will help the immunization process cover
more EU citizens. All Europeans need to have equal access to
vaccines, she added.
According to Radev, the reason for the low share of vaccinated
Bulgarians is because vaccines from all manufacturers were not
supplied at the start of the vaccination campaign.
The head of State described the high mortality rate in Bulgaria
in light of the decreasing number of new COVID-19 infections as
a problem for this country.
According to President Radev, it is very important to provide
people with access to proper health care in the so-called
"golden hour" after an accident. "Thousands of Bulgarians are
losing their lives because they cannot be helped in the first
hour after suffering an accident, and especially after a stroke
or a heart attack," Radev noted, adding that this problem is
even more serious in remote settlements. That's why the
caretaker Government is working on including a project for the
establishment of a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS)
in the Recovery and Resilience Plan, which Bulgaria will present
to the European Commission.
President Radev has called for relaxing the administrative
procedures when a country donates vaccines to another. He said
that Bulgaria would like to donate vaccines to the Republic of
Kyriakides said earlier in the day that scientists are
currently studying the effectiveness of rapid antigen COVID
tests. She noted that when, and if, there is sufficient
scientific data, the results from such tests will be recognized
by the EU Digital COVID Certificate.
She stressed that the safest way to travel freely is to get
vaccinated. 'We follow science, the advice of scientists, so
that we can provide reliable information,'' she added. The EU
COVID certificates currently cover those who have been
vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as those who have had a PCR
test or have been infected and recovered, but the latter is
only recognized if proven by a PCR test.
Nearly 50 per cent of Europeans have already been vaccinated,
Meeting with caretaker Health Minister Katsarov
Earlier in the day, the EU Commissioner met with caretaker
Health Minister Stoycho Katsarov and the two visited a mobile
COVID-19 immunization centre on Alexander Battenberg Square in
Minister Katsarov told reporters that he and EU Commissioner
Kyriakides had discussed the development of a national
anti-cancer plan. Further co-operation with the EC on
prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care for
people with cancer was also discussed, he said.
Later in the day, the press service of the Ministry of Health
said that during the conversation the two discussed the epidemic
situation and the immunization coverage in the European Union,
as well as the problems faced by EU Member States in
implementing their vaccination campaigns.
Katsarov pointed out that one of the first tasks he and his team
set for themselves upon taking office was to vaccinate people
over the age of 60 as a priority. "The registered high mortality
rate comes from the fact that people over the age of 60 were
not a priority group in the National Vaccination Plan," Katsarov
As the main reasons for the low vaccination coverage in the
country, Katsarov pointed out the reluctance of a large part of
the Bulgarian population to get vaccinated, as well as the sense
of security coming from the decreasing number of COVID-19
infections. Katsarov added that the Ministry of Health is
currently launching an information campaign on the benefits of
vaccines, but that it is coming too late. "This is something
that had to be done at the beginning of the year to have an
effect now," he said.