National pandemic response plan unveiled

Coronavirus vaccination to begin after New Year

During a briefing at the Council of Ministers headquarters, Minister of Healthcare Kostadin Angelov and Prof Ventsislav Mutafchiyski, head of the National Operative Staff, presented a national pandemic response plan on Wednesday. Guidelines provided by the World Health Organisation and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control were used in its drafting.

“The main goals are keeping the infection rate under control and reducing the pandemic's mortality rate; safeguarding and securing the continued functioning of essential sectors and services such as healthcare, defence and transportation; giving regular updates about the measures being taken,” the healthcare minister said. He noted that this national plan creates only a general framework. It is meant to serve as the basis on which the government's response to any specific pandemic can be built.

According to the country's senior healthcare inspector, Assoc Prof Angel Kunchev, adopting such a plan is important because it lays out guidelines for how to stem a pandemic wave, reduce mortality and infection rates, procure vaccines in the shortest timeframe possible, and ensure the undisrupted functioning of essential sectors. He also underscored the importance of the communication strategy. “Crucially important are things like the kinds of messages being related to the public, providing people with accurate and timely information, making sure the language we use is easy to understand so that we do not get to a place where 20-30% of the population continues to believe the virus is not real, even while we are at the height of the pandemic,” Assoc Prof Kunchev said.   

The vaccination against the novel coronavirus is starting after New Year, has been revealed during the briefing. By the end of this week, refrigerators and freezers for the first batch of Pfizer vaccines will be set up in Sofia and Burgas. The healthcare minister assured that getting the vaccine will be voluntary and free of charge. Bulgaria will receive every type of vaccine set to be distributed across Europe. The government will have a national vaccination plan ready by Thursday and present it at the next cabinet meeting. Prof Krasimir Gigov, MD, the director general of the Bulgarian Red Cross, will head the team coordinating its implementation.

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