On November 6th, doctors dressed in full safety clothes and shoes loaded equipment into a Romanian military transport plane before bringing beds containing two critically ill Covid-19 patients up the ramp and inside. The back door slowly closed as the propellers began to whirr, and the plane lumbered up the runway, heading for Denmark.
“There is no secret,” says Raed Arafat, who is in charge of Romania’s anti-covid campaign: the country’s hospitals are “overflowing.” Approximately 90 patients have been flown to Denmark, Germany, Hungary, and other locations. Teams of medics from all around Europe are also flying in to assist their ailing colleagues.
The number of people infected with the extremely dangerous Delta form is increasing across Europe, and several countries are considering or enforcing new restrictions. However, this wave is wreaking havoc on some countries significantly more than others. An arc of susceptibility has evolved from the Balkans to the Baltics, spanning a swath of nations with low vaccination rates.
In recent weeks, the death rate from covid-19 has reached new highs in Bulgaria, Latvia, and Romania. In the week ending November 8th, Bulgaria had 22.8 confirmed deaths for every million people. In Romania, the figure was 21.8, while in Latvia, it was 18.8. However, it was only 3.0 for the EU as a whole. The number of cases has now begun to decline in those three hard-hit nations, but it is now on the rise in Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Ukraine.
When it comes to immunization, all of the countries being pounded are at the bottom of the heap. Only 23% of Bulgarians and 34% of Romanians have been double-jabbed. In Latvia, the figure is 57 percent, but it was much lower a month ago, when the current wave began. In the EU as a whole, 66 percent of people have been double-vaccinated.
As according Oana Popescu, director of GlobalFocus, a Romanian think tank, Romanians’ apathy toward vaccination is a direct outcome of what they perceive to be decades of neglect by the authorities. “Of course, you become sceptical when the government suddenly appears to care about you for the first time in 30 years!” she explains. Unfortunately, Romanians are not the only ones that feel this way.
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