Two Europes: Low Vaccine Rates In East Overwhelm ICUs

A member of the medical staff puts on an extra pair of gloves in the COVID-19 ICU unit of the Marius Nasta National Pneumology Institute in Bucharest, Romania, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. Daily new coronavirus infections in Romania, a country of 19 million, have grown exponentially over the last month, while vaccine uptake has declined to worrying lows. Government data shows that 91.5% of COVID-19 deaths in Romania between Sept. 18-23 were people who had not been vaccinated. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

(AP) — The vaccination situation in Europe is a story of two regions. In some European Union countries like France, Spain, Denmark and Portugal, high acceptance of the benefits of vaccines has prompted many to get the shots and has allowed those governments to lift restrictions.

Not so in Bulgaria and Romania, which have the bloc’s lowest uptake of vaccinations, at just 22% and 33% of their adult populations. That is now leading to overwhelmed hospitals and full ICU units in those two countries.

In a packed ICU in Romania’s capital, Bucharest, 55-year-old Adrian Pica is receiving oxygen and regretting his decision not to get vaccinated. He says “I was afraid.”


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