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The European digital COVID certificates for vaccination of 93 thousand citizens, whose vaccination course was completed more than 270 days ago on February 1, will not be valid for travel to the EU, the Ministry of Health announced.

European Green Certificates for Completed Vaccination Course will be Valid for 270 days

The reason is that from 1 February 2022, all EU digital COVID certificates proving a completed vaccination course will be valid for 270 days from the date of the last dose. These new rules are set out in Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/2288 of the European Commission and apply to all Member States.

Booster dose certificates are not limited by the EC with a validity period.

This requirement only applies when traveling within the EU.

A reference made today, January 24, in the vaccination register shows that on February 1, 93,000 citizens vaccinated in Bulgaria will count as vaccinated more than 270 days ago.

The Ministry of Health draws attention to the fact that persons whose digital COVID certificates for completed vaccination course as of February 1 are invalid (i.e. 270 days have passed since the date of the last dose and no booster dose has been applied) can apply for an additional booster dose at any time for which they will receive a vaccination certificate, with an unlimited period.

/BNT

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Tomorrow, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov will convene a Security Council of the Council of Ministers. Earlier, GERB said that they were submitting 59 signatures, while 48 were needed, with a request to convene an extraordinary session of the National Assembly on the issue and to hear out Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, Defense Minister Stefan Yanev and Foreign Minister Teodora Genchovska.

The situation in Ukraine and the information that NATO is putting its forces in full combat readiness led to the decision of Prime Minister Kiril Petkov to convene tomorrow the Security Council of the Council of Ministers, which is under his direct authority.

The announcement of the government information service emphasizes that the main task of the Council is to analyze the state of our national security.

Earlier in a statement to the media, GERB leader Boyko Borissov accused the ruling party of “deafening silence” and said that unlike them, he continued to be informed by the foreign press.

GERB had many questions on the subject to the prime minister and ministers, because their position so far has varied from sharp to evasive, and the comments of some of the coalition were that these are personal opinions.

Borissov also asked why at such an important meeting of EU foreign ministers on Russia-Ukraine today in Brussels, our country was represented by a deputy minister and not by our first diplomat Teodora Genchovska.

Kiril Petrov Welcomed North Macedonian Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski in Sofia

Our Foreign Minister has met with the first diplomat of North Macedonia, who is in Bulgaria together with the government delegation of our southwestern neighbor, it became clear from a statement by our Foreign Ministry.

And Borissov insisted on clear answers and actions from the ruling party.

On the Bulgarian National Television Deputy Speaker of Parliament Christian Vigenin also commented on the tensions between Russia and Ukraine

“I think that the Russian threat of invasion of Ukraine is currently being exaggerated. I don't think any reasonable force would allow such actions,” he said.

That is why Vigenin advised everyone to not create unnecessary pressure.

/BNT

The Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov welcomed the Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia Dimitar Kovachevski.

The official ceremony took place in front of the Monument to the Unknown Soldier, where the two prime ministers laid wreaths.

The two prime ministers also laid flowers at the monument to the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius

Kovachevski arrived in Bulgaria for tomorrow's intergovernmental meeting, which will be held at the Boyana residence tomorrow.

/BNT

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Natural gas in Europe rose by about 8% to 86 euros per megawatt-hour due to growing fears of a possible Russian military invasion of Ukraine, which would further escalate tensions between the West and Moscow and lead to problems with Russian supplies of natural gas to the old continent in the case of possible introduction of stricter sanctions.

At the same time, Asian countries are expected to increase their supplies of liquefied natural gas (LNG) due to lower temperatures in the region, which could limit this type of supply to Europe.

For example, China's large oil and gas company, Sinopec, announced five loads of liquefied natural gas in a tender for 45 cargo deliveries.

All this contributes to today's sharp rise in European gas prices, as the price of futures for blue fuel at the Dutch gas hub TTF increased by about 8% to 85.50 euros per megawatt-hour. Earlier in the day, their price even reached 86.50 euros per MWh - the highest since January 17th.

Chart of the price of gas TTF futures (in EUR per MWh)

Meanwhile, the European Commission has discussed with partners, namely Azerbaijan and the United States, ways to increase natural gas supplies to the bloc.

A decline in wind energy production (from RES) is also expected for Monday, according to Elexon data. However, wind speeds will rise later this week, with temperatures expected to rise after the brief ongoing cold snap, although lower consumption is expected by the end of the week amid still low European gas stocks, analysts from Refinitive said.

By 22 January, European gas storage facilities were 43% full, up from 56% at the same time last year, according to Gas Infrastructure Europe.

All this contributes to today's sharp rise in European gas prices, as the price of futures for blue fuel at the Dutch gas hub TTF increased by about 8% to 85.50 euros per megawatt-hour. Earlier in the day, their price even reached 86.50 euros per MWh - the highest since January 17th.

/BNR

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The US dollar strengthened slightly against major currencies today as the Euro fell in Asian trade as stock markets were nervous of tensions in Ukraine and a possible more aggressive rise in the Federal Reserve's (Fed) reference rate this week.

In the crypto market, bitcoin is trading near a six-month low, which is an additional sign of panic among investors trying to “get out of risky assets.”

The dollar index, which measures the value of the US currency against a basket of six major rivals, rose 0.11% and the euro sank 0.19% to .1319, according to Reuters.

The dollar strengthened against the Japanese yen by 0.1% to 113.8 yen.

Tensions in Ukraine have escalated for months, with the West claiming the Kremlin is preparing for war and gathering troops near the country's borders to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. The State Department announced on Sunday that it had ordered family members of US diplomats to leave Ukraine.

US State Department has Ordered the Families of all Employees of US Embassy in Kiev to leave Ukraine

In the cryptocurrency markets, bitcoin lost 3.4% of its value and traded for about $ 35,000 after reaching its lowest level since July 2014 of $ 34,000 on Saturday. The price of the world's largest cryptocurrency has halved from a high of ,000 reached last November.

Traders say institutional investors are trying to reduce their exposure to cryptocurrencies and other risky assets, such as stocks.

The sell-off hurt most digital currencies, with Ethereum, the world's second-largest virtual currency, falling to ,440 on Saturday, its lowest level since July last year.

Investors say the sale of risky assets is due to growing expectations that the Fed will raise interest rates significantly more than market estimates a month ago.

/BGNES

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At the moment, the European Union does not plan to withdraw the families of its diplomats from Ukraine, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Joseph Borrell was quoted as saying by Reuters.

US State Department has Ordered the Families of all Employees of US Embassy in Kiev to leave Ukraine

He commented on the topic after the United States ordered the immediate withdrawal of the families of its diplomats from Kiev on the grounds that a military attack from Russia is expected. Britain followed. London is withdrawing its diplomats from the Ukrainian capital.

British Diplomats began to Leave Ukraine

“We will not do the same because we do not know of any specific reasons. However, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will keep us informed,” Borrell told reporters today as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers. Blinken is expected to join this afternoon online.

NATO will Expand its Military Presence in Eastern Europe

EU foreign ministers are expected to issue another warning to Russia over the build-up of troops on its border with Ukraine.

Australia has Called on its Citizens to leave Ukraine

The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs described as “premature” the withdrawal of the families of the employees of the American embassy. The spokesman for the ministry Oleg Nikolenko made the comment, TASS reports.

Meanwhile, the European Commission proposed today that Ukraine be granted 1.2 billion euros in economic aid. “We call on the European Parliament to approve the proposal quickly”, said EC President Ursula von der Leyen.

In recent years, Kiev has received 17 billion euros in EU aid. Von der Leyen expressed readiness this year for the EC to provide Ukraine with twice as many grants - up to 120 million euros. The European investment plan for the country envisions attracting 6 billion euros.

/OFFNews

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There are 452 classes in the country that are in quarantine by order of the Minister of Education. This is less than 1% of all classes in the country. Two more municipalities have introduced a rotation principle for students from 5th to 12th grade - Gabrovo and Tryavna.

The average number of quarantined students in the whole country is 2.99%. Stara Zagora set a record in this respect with 4.08% of students in isolation. The lowest number of quarantined students is in Gabrovo - 1.21%.

According to the latest data, the percentage of quarantined teachers is on average 4.31 percent for the country.

Vidin is the district with the most isolated teachers - 7.86%. The least quarantined teachers are in Razgrad - 1.36%.

COVID-19 in Bulgaria: More New Cases than Newly Vaccinated in the Last 24 hours

What do the data for the capital show?

In Sofia, 5.26% of teachers and 3.89% of students are quarantined.

In general, there has been an increase in rates in recent days.

/BNT

Australian authorities have advised citizens to refrain from traveling to Ukraine and Australians who are there to leave as soon as possible. This was announced on Monday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Australian Union, quoted by TACC.

US State Department has Ordered the Families of all Employees of US Embassy in Kiev to leave Ukraine

“Consular services and our ability to provide consular assistance may be limited due to the situation in the country. Australians who decide to stay in Ukraine must reconsider their personal security plans, be prepared to find a safe place if necessary, maintain their awareness and register with the (Australian) Ministry of Foreign Affairs and trade,” a government statement said.

British Diplomats began to Leave Ukraine

Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald has announced that Australia has begun evacuating the families of diplomats from Kiev.

/Focus

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Britain has begun withdrawing its diplomatic staff from the embassy in Ukraine amid warnings that the Russian military could invade the country with very short notice.

According to the BBC, officials have explained that there are no specific threats against British officials, but still about half of them will return home.

US State Department has Ordered the Families of all Employees of US Embassy in Kiev to leave Ukraine

A few hours ago, the United States began retrieving the families of its diplomats and allowed those of its employees who are not in key positions and want to leave to do so. The reason is that a Russian invasion could begin “at any moment.”

U.S. citizens have been advised not to travel to Russia and Ukraine, and those in Ukraine to consider leaving or at least register with the emergency services system. The United States has no practice of tracking how many Americans there are in Ukraine and where they are, administration officials in Washington told reporters. It is not customary to reveal the number of diplomatic staff and how many of them or their relatives are leaving.

NATO will Expand its Military Presence in Eastern Europe

Moscow has repeatedly explained that it has no plans to invade Ukraine, as the State Department has warned again.

The European Union will not withdraw the families of its staff to Ukraine, Special Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell said today. According to him, the reason is that he is not aware of any specific reasons for such a move. “But Secretary of State Blinken will keep us informed,” he added. Anthony Blinken will talk via video link with his EU counterparts this afternoon.

/Dnevnik

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NATO allies are sending more warplanes and ships to strengthen NATO's presence in Eastern Europe, given the situation around Ukraine.

This is confirmed in a statement from the Alliance, following the deployment of more forces from individual countries in the defense union in recent days.

Amid growing tensions marked by the withdrawal of US and British diplomats from Ukraine (something the European Union has so far refrained from doing), NATO explains that the goal is to increase the Alliance's resilience as “Russia continues to build up military forces in and around Ukraine”.

US State Department has Ordered the Families of all Employees of US Embassy in Kiev to leave Ukraine

British Diplomats began to Leave Ukraine

Most of these decisions by European countries have already been announced in recent days, but NATO's common position follows the fluctuations caused in the public space by comments from US President Joe Biden on the divergent positions among the bloc's countries.

The statements from the last days of a number of countries for forthcoming and prepared (if necessary) support moves are listed:

It is recalled that the Defense Union has already increased its presence in Eastern Europe (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland) with multinational battle groups led by Britain, Canada, Germany and the United States, and they are on alert.

“Their presence suggests that an attack on an ally will be considered an attack on the entire alliance. There were no NATO forces in the eastern part of the alliance before 2014,” the statement said.

The topic is also expected to be discussed by EU foreign ministers at today's regular meeting.

/Dnevnik

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There will be no night transport in Sofia until at least April 30.

This will be voted by the Sofia Municipal Council (SMC) at its meeting on Thursday.

The reasons are the COVID epidemic and related measures, which lead to lower demand for night lines 1,2,3 and 4, as well as the continuing trend of rising prices for fuels and consumables, the authors of the report in the SMC Carlos Contrera and Zafir Zarkov said.

The night buses in the capital were stopped in the spring of 2020.

/OFFNews

“Bulgaria is already in the Omicron phase. Evidence of this is the continuing number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 and those admitted to intensive care units.” This was commented by the former Minister of Health Dr. Mimi Vitkova on Nova TV.

“We have to give ourselves a few more days in this sharp jump in morbidity to see what happens. Usually, it is not the first days that bring patients to the hospital. Within a week, the forecast should be clearer - whether with this growth we will maintain the balance in hospitals,” she said.

Dr. Vitkova pointed out that the problem regarding taking measures for children is now big. “They have been studying online for a long time and education has suffered a lot during these two years. The long-term and late consequences of the fact that education is not at the required level are yet to be seen,” she added. She clarified that the idea of ​​the Ministry of Education and Science to seek balance in some regions is not possible due to the growing incidence.

Bulgarian Doctor: At the End of Spring the Cases will Decrease Sharply

Regarding COVID measures, the former Minister of Health said that they are non-standard all over the world. “The fact that restaurateurs have been vaccinated - at the same time the question is whether their visitors are. And especially now, during Omicron, we see that the vaccinated and the unvaccinated are both sick. The idea is to avoid these larger accumulations,” she added.

Regarding the fact that the vaccinated are also getting sick, Dr. Vitkova pointed out: “Unfortunately, the vaccines did not turn out to be what we expected in the beginning. That is, we expected that when you were vaccinated, the epidemic would end. We see that this is not happening. Recognitions are now widespread that vaccines have yet to be completed,” she said.

According to her, the problems surrounding the coronavirus pandemic are many and are a challenge for medical science. “The question of the origin of the virus is still emerging, especially in America. We still don't have an answer there. We are returning to the beginning of the pandemic,” Vitkova said.

COVID-19 in Bulgaria: When will the Green Certificate Fall

She also commented on the revocation of the green certificate when we have 60% vaccinated and less than 5% of intensive care beds: “Some countries have already done so. Let's see if we will reach 60% - we are still far away “, Vitkova concluded.

/Nova

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“The good thing about Omicron is that a very low percentage of people are admitted to hospitals and a very low percentage have severe symptoms of the disease.” This was said on the Bulgarian National Radio by Prof. Todor Kantardzhiev, advisor to the Sofia Municipality on health issues and former director of the National Center for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases.

In our country, there is strong evidence that the disease passes more easily, he said.

According to the results of sequenced samples, only 7 people out of 227 with Omicron are in hospital, said Prof. Kantardzhiev. According to him, it is good that we maintain lower numbers of people in hospitals.

“By the end of spring we will have a sharp decrease in cases, even in our country. We will have a lull in the summer.”

The measures should not be very strict and restrictive, but they should be timely, Kantardzhiev summed up. According to him, the effect of the introduced measures should be visible in two weeks, otherwise the motivation of the population is lost.

Mixed infection with influenza and coronavirus is rare, said Todor Kantardzhiev.

More than half a million people in our country have received a third, booster injection, the specialist added.

A universal flu vaccine has been underway for 40-50 years, but every year the WHO changes the composition of influenza vaccines, commented Prof. Kantardzhiev on the development of a universal vaccine against Covid-19. According to him, a universal vaccine is very difficult to make.

/BNR

“Russia aims to invoke division and point out that there are difficulties in consolidating Bulgaria's position. And thus to exert political pressure on Bulgaria. An important interest in Russian policy in the Balkans is weak Bulgaria.” Thus, the former caretaker Minister of Defense Velizar Shalamanov commented on BNT on Russia's insistence on the withdrawal of NATO forces from Bulgaria.

“Moscow is pursuing at least three goals. The international community is urging Moscow to withdraw from the occupied territories of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine, and with these ultimatums seeks to cover up this problem and create another problem in which to take the initiative. Secondly, the goal is to create disunity in the countries of the Washington Treaty in the EU and after diplomatic steps it is considered that Bulgaria is the most vulnerable. Especially packed with Romania, as there are many NATO forces in Romania. Bulgaria has practically no structures of the Alliance due to our policy, but this ultimatum definitely creates tension in our country.”

According to Shalamanov, the provocations will continue and will be focused on our country, as it has stood out as a weak element in the Alliance.

“All NATO action is a response to the occupation, over-militarization of Crimea and the deployment of new systems aimed at curbing the freedom of movement of military units on the territory of NATO countries. So what more Russia can do is difficult for me to determine. They have a fairly large concentration of armed forces. Further military confrontation will not work. More important is how the United States and NATO will respond to Russia with a de-escalation plan. And this plan will change the situation,” Shalamanov explained.

According to him, the risks for Bulgaria from the tensions in Ukraine are primarily economic. Such tensions will lead to problems in economic operations in the region. According to him, another risk is that we cannot rely on the Russian military-industrial complex to maintain the combat readiness and capabilities of the Bulgarian army as part of NATO.

/BNT

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Protest and riots in Brussels. The police used tear gas and water cannons against protesters who are disagreeing with the green certificate. Several buildings in the Belgian capital have been severely damaged. There are also arrested individuals.

Thousands of people, most of them without protective masks, filled the streets of Brussels in protest of the health measures. Initially, the demonstration began peacefully, but clashes with police broke out at around 2 p.m. local time yesterday.

Demonstrators smashed cars and buildings in the area where the European institutions are located. Protesters carried placards reading “Democracy means freedom”, “No to QR codes” and “No to the coronavirus of society!”

Protesters also held placards showing their disagreement with COVID-19 vaccines and calling for “protection” of children.

“I was vaccinated personally, but I'm angry that my children also need to be vaccinated, and they do it for their freedom. They want to travel, to participate in sports, and they can't do that without being vaccinated,” said Carolyn van Landitt.

Prior to the rally, police arrested six people for possession of dangerous or prohibited items.

/Nova

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Several thousand people took to the streets of Washington D.C. to protest the mandatory vaccination against COVID-19. The demonstrators carried placards reading “Make love, not obligations!” Protesters have spoken out against President Joe Biden's policy on immunization and masks.

According to the latest data - 1/3 of Americans say they do not wear masks at all. About 860,000 people have died of coronavirus in America so far. The pandemic also caused serious damage to the economy there.

“Whether it's COVID-19 or another viral disease, we need to focus on protecting the vulnerable, the at-risk, the elderly, the overweight, the pregnant. I am against compulsory vaccination for all and the fact that we focus only on vaccines, as if they are the only treatment we have. We will not get out of the pandemic this way. We need to use all the tools, especially prevention and early treatment,” said Dr. Laura Chamberlain, a general practitioner in Chicago.

/Nova

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The Omicron variant has moved the Covid pandemic into a new phase and is likely to bring it to an end in Europe, the World Health Organization's regional director for Europe said on Sunday.

“It is plausible that the region is moving towards the final phase of the pandemic,” Hans Kluge told AFP, adding that Omicron could infect 60% of Europeans by March.

When Omicron's current wave in Europe subsides, “there will be many weeks and months of global immunity - either thanks to vaccines or because people will have immunity after infection, as well as reduced seasonality.”

“We expect a lull before Covid-19 is likely to return by the end of the year, but not necessarily in the form of a pandemic,” Kluge said.

Also Sunday, Anthony Fauci, head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, expressed similar optimism.

“Covid-19 cases are falling sharply in parts of the United States, things are looking good,” he told ABC News.

Earlier, the WHO Regional Office for Africa announced that Covid-19 cases had fallen sharply in the region and that deaths were also falling for the first time since the peak of Omicron's fourth wave.

/BNR

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US President Joe Biden is considering deploying additional US troops, aircraft and naval forces to the Baltic states and Eastern Europe. Such information was published in The New York Times, citing sources from the US administration.

According to the media, we might be talking about “several thousand” servicemen. The decision to deploy additional troops could be made within a week, sources said.

US State Department has Ordered the Families of all Employees of US Embassy in Kiev to leave Ukraine

According to the newspaper on Saturday, Pentagon officials presented Joe Biden with several options for relocating US forces as close as possible to Russia's borders. Under one of these options, defense experts suggest sending between 1,000 and 5,000 troops to Eastern European countries, with the possibility of increasing their numbers if tensions in the region escalate.

The first shipment of military supplies, including ammunition, with a total tonnage of more than 90 tonnes, was delivered to Ukraine on Saturday. According to the US Embassy, ​​the United States provided more than 0 million in military aid last year, and Kiev has received .7 billion in aid since 2014. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announced yesterday the arrival of a second shipment of weapons weighing more than 80 tons.

/BGNES

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Tighter restrictions on those not vaccinated against covid come into force in France today, DPA reported.

People who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus and who have not had the disease will not be able to visit restaurants, bars, cultural sites, sporting events and long-distance trains.

The new restrictions are related to the introduction of a vaccination certificate in France. In order to have access to public life, people will need to present this certificate to prove that they have been vaccinated or that they have contracted the disease, and negative tests for coronavirus will no longer be enough.

Tighter restrictions have sparked a public debate in France, with the French Constitutional Council ruling that restrictions should remain in place only as long as it is needed to fight the pandemic.

The French authorities hope that the restrictions will help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

/BTA

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The US State Department has ordered the families of all employees of the US Embassy in Kiev to leave Ukraine amid fears of a Russian invasion, the Associated Press reported.

The department said that all relatives of embassy staff in Kiev should leave Ukraine and that all embassy staff who do not perform functions of paramount importance can leave Ukraine at government expense.

The move came amid growing fears of a possible Russian aggression against Ukraine.

The State Department stressed that the US Embassy in Kiev will remain open and that there is no question of evacuation. This decision has been considered for some time and should not be interpreted as a reduction in US support for Ukraine, US officials said.

/BTA

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Today it will remain mostly cloudy and windy with moderate, in the eastern half of the country and temporarily strong wind from the north-northeast. Cold air will invade with it. This was announced for FOCUS News Agency by the weather forecaster on duty at the National Institute of Hydrology and Meteorology Boryana Markova.

During the day, mainly in the mountainous regions, light snow will fall, which will stop in the afternoon, and over the western regions of the country there will be more significant cloudbursts. It will be cold with maximum temperatures between minus 5° and 0° Celsius, in Sofia - minus 5°C.

Above the Black Sea coast the clouds will be significant, but only in some places, mainly on the Southern Black Sea coast it will snow. A moderate to strong wind from the north-northwest will blow. Maximum temperatures will be 0°-2°C. The temperature of the sea water: 6°-8°C. The sea wave will be 3-4 points.

Above the mountains the clouds will be significant in many places, mainly in the massifs in the western half of the country there will be snowfall, which will weaken and stop in the afternoon. A strong wind from the northeast will blow. There will be conditions for blizzards and winds along the mountain passes. It will be very cold, with a maximum temperature at an altitude of 1200 meters around minus 11°C, at 2000 meters - around minus 14°C.

/Focus

2847 are newly infected with COVID-19 in the country. They were found after a total of 13,268 tests, which means that the positive samples are just over 21%. This is shown by the data from the Unified Information Portal for January 24.

28 died in the last 24 hours, none of whom had completed a vaccination course. 1376 people are listed as cured.

There are 207 new patients in the hospital, 84 percent of whom have not been vaccinated. The total number of hospitalized is 5,309, with 550 people in intensive care units.

1938 doses of vaccines were administered during the last 24 hours.

The total number of people who have completed a vaccination course is 1,976,308. There are 569,133 people with a booster dose.

/ClubZ

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• According to the 11th Allianz study in 2022, the three biggest business risks worldwide are cyber threats, business disruption and natural disasters.

• The pandemic falls from second to fourth position as most companies feel prepared for future developments. Natural disasters and climate change rise significantly in the annual ranking with the increase of extreme weather events.

• For Bulgaria, local experts identify the pandemic, business disruption and macroeconomic development of the country as the three biggest risks.

Cyber ​​threats are the biggest concern for companies globally in 2022, according to this year's Allianz Risk Barometer. The threat of cyberattacks to ransom, data leaks or major disruptions to IT infrastructure worries companies even more than business disruptions, supply chain disruptions, natural disasters or Covid-19 - factors that have hit businesses hard in the past year.

The Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) annual survey includes the opinions of 2,650 experts from 89 countries and regions, including CEOs, risk managers, brokers and insurance experts. Cyber ​​incidents top the list with 44% of responses, business downturns fall to second place from last year's edition by 42 percent, and natural disasters rank third with 25 percent, compared to sixth in 2021. The pandemic spread falls to fourth position (22%), and climate change climbs to its highest ever ranking - sixth place (17%).

“For most companies, the biggest threat is that they will not be able to produce their products or provide their services. In 2021, we have seen unprecedented disturbances caused by various factors, and this year promises only a gradual alleviation of the situation. Building resilience to the many causes of business disruptions is increasingly becoming a competitive advantage for companies,” said Joachim Müller, CEO of AGCS.

The full ranking of global and local risks can be viewed here.

For Bulgaria, experts identify the pandemic (38%), business disruption (33%) and the country's macroeconomic development (29%) as the three biggest risks. “For local businesses, health problems related to Covid-19 continue to be the greatest threat to business and the workforce and generate hazards and disruptions in supply chains. The changing political environment, financial policy and rising prices are also worrying factors,” said Ioannis Kotsianos, CEO of Allianz Bulgaria Holding.

The number and complexity of cyber attacks and cybercrime are increasing and this is the main reason why they are listed as the biggest risk for global business. The main driver is the recent jump in ransom attacks, which are confirmed as the biggest cyber threat for next year by respondents (57%). Recent attacks have shown alarming trends such as “double blackmail” tactics, combining encryption of systems with data breaches; exploiting vulnerabilities in software that potentially threaten thousands of companies or affect infrastructure systems. Respondents acknowledge the need to build resilience and plan to address potential disruptions or new requirements from regulators, investors and other stakeholders.

According to the study, cyber attacks are also the biggest risk for business interruption. In a year of severe disruption, vulnerabilities in modern supply chains and production networks are more apparent than ever. The impact of companies' growing dependence on digitalization and the shift to telecommuting is also of concern to experts. Natural disasters and pandemics are the other two important risks of business disruption. Over the past year, leaps in demand after the lockdown have been combined with production and logistics disruptions as Covid-19 outbreaks in Asia have closed factories and caused record levels of congestion in container ports.

The pandemic falls from second to fourth, but remains a major concern for companies. Although the Covid-19 crisis continues to overshadow the economic outlook in many industries, encouragingly, businesses feel they have adapted. The majority of respondents (80%) believe that they are adequate or well prepared for future events.

Regarding the risk of natural disasters and climate change, recent years have shown that the frequency and severity of meteorological phenomena are increasing due to global warming. Respondents to the Allianz Risk Barometer 2022 are most concerned about meteorological phenomena related to climate change, causing damage to corporate property (57%), followed by the impact on business disruption and supply chain (41%). However, they are also concerned about managing the transition to a low-carbon economy (36%), complex regulatory and reporting requirements and the potential risks of litigation for failing to take adequate action to tackle climate change (34%).

The shortage of skilled labor is a new addition to the top 10 positions in the rankings. Attracting and retaining staff has never been a greater challenge, especially for the engineering, construction, real estate, public services and healthcare and transport sectors.

/Allianz Bulgaria Press Release

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Martin does not trust politicians - neither the numbers they mention nor the data they share. He reads the newspapers, but he likes the “alternative information” he finds in telegram chats more. As soon as he heard that the coronavirus vaccine was being worked on, his first thought was that he would not get it. Martin says he has been thinking every day since if he was wrong, but he always concludes that he made the right decision.

When you want to intentionally get the coronavirus

Martin is 32 years old and lives in Hamburg, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). He has a child, enjoys going to bars and clubs and spends a lot of time outside. But when Hamburg introduced the 2G rule at the end of the summer (vaccinated and post-sick only), he began to fear. What will happen if they impose the same restrictions on his workplace? He does not want to buy a fake vaccination certificate because he does not consider it “morally justified”. An acquaintance of his tells him that he bought a fake positive PCR test and thus received the status of “post-sick”. But Martin doesn't want to do that either. The only option left for him is to become infected intentionally.

The man found a group in the chat application Telegram, in which people like him are looking for a coronavirus patient to meet them. Some are even willing to pay. One user said he was under stress from his employer. Others believe that a person cannot be infected with the coronavirus, so their endeavor seems pointless. Others ask someone to send them saliva in an envelope in the mail. Demand is greater than supply. But one of the group members, Dirk Schneider, wrote: “I have covid since recently and will share it. I'm from Lubeck.”

Timur from Switzerland tells how he stayed in a car with an infected person for over 1 hour. The patient coughed and sneezed, but nothing happened - Timur's result was negative. Now he is forced to stay at home all day and has no choice but to get infected. He does not believe that the “flu” can cause him anything because he “knows his body too well.”

One user advised Timur to use an ear stick to take a sample of an infected person, and then put it in his nose. Her friend did that. As a result, 15 people became infected. Some have been ill, others have not, but all have tested positive.

When a positive result brings “relief”

A few days later, another man from Switzerland appeared in the group, who tested positive. Timur offers to meet him. He performed the procedure with the ear stick, after three days his PCR test was positive. There are already symptoms. Timur brags in the group, others congratulate him, he offers to help several other users to get infected.

Martin is looking for someone from the Hamburg area to infect him. A woman contacts him and offers to send an acquaintance with whom to drink from the same glass. Martin agrees, but then gets scared and refuses the meeting.

SPIEGEL: Colonies of German Anti-Vaxxers are Springing up on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast

A week later, Martin's friends contacted him - all sick with mild symptoms. The two families meet for several days. Then they isolate themselves “out of respect for other people”, and Martin's girlfriend gives a positive result in the quick test. His, however, is negative – “very disappointing.” So he goes to have a PCR test and just before that he wipes his nose with his girlfriend's handkerchief. The result is positive Martin is now “completely relieved”.

The favorite platform of covid skeptics, anti-vaxxers and the far-right

The Telegram has become a favorite platform for far-right and conspiracy theorists, said Julia Smirnova of the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue. In addition to hate speech and anti-Semitism, Telegram also contains direct calls for violence against politicians, students and business representatives. Most of these calls are from East Germany, but are also found in the western provinces.

In some groups in North Rhine-Westphalia, you can find comments like this: “Perpetrators must receive punishments that would be present in history textbooks even after 200 years. Comparable to the Nuremberg trials.” Another group says, “the best thing is to have a quick execution right after the sentence.” It's about the American immunologist Anthony Fauci.

The strategy for attracting members of these groups is different. For example, videos of demonstrations against measures or vaccines are often published. “This way, people feel they are not alone,” Smirnova explains. Emotional language is also used. The police are called “mercenaries”, the German state – “dictatorship”. “In this way, violence against government officials is legitimized in these channels,” Smirnova said.

Bulgaria: Protest Against the Green Certificate in front of Parliament (VIDEOS and PHOTOS)

These chats mix a heterogeneous group of people - covid skeptics, anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, esotericists, far-right. But unlike Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, there are no legal requirements for the platform to take action against illegal content, as it is considered a chat application and not a social network. Attempts by the German government to start a dialogue with Telegram have not been responded to by the platform, which is headquartered in Dubai.

/Dnevnik /Deutsche Welle

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After the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the average life expectancy in Bulgaria has decreased by 1.5 years compared to 2019 and now Bulgarian citizens live (73.6 years) with seven full years less than the average European (80.6 years).

Bulgaria's population has shrunk by 10% in 10 years

The collapse is the highest in Europe (twice the average) and, in addition to the record mortality from COVID-19, is explained by the poor efficiency of Bulgarian health care, which leads to more than the EU average deaths from curable and preventable diseases.

This is the conclusion of the European Commission's report on the state of health in the EU, published in late 2021.

According to the report, despite the significant increase in health care costs in Bulgaria, they remain the lowest in Europe, and the lack of prevention dooms Bulgarians to suffering from diseases that could be avoided or cured and lead a better life.

“Despite improvements in the health system over the last decade, the impact of persistently high-risk factors, high additional payments by patients and excessive focus on hospital care continue to hamper the system,” the European Commission said in a statement.

It says the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the need for additional investment in the health sector, including better preparedness for future health crises. “For Bulgaria, this challenge includes investments to create a unified health information system to accelerate the introduction of e-health and improve working conditions in the sector.”

Highest mortality in the EU: 88% more deaths in November in Bulgaria

The healthcare system

The main criticism of the healthcare system in Bulgaria is its low efficiency. There has been no visible reduction in deaths from treatable diseases in the last decade, with levels well above the EU average, the report said.

Bulgarians who die from treatable diseases are twice as many as other Europeans, especially when it comes to heart attacks and strokes. 42% of the deadfall victim to both diseases, followed by 10% of colon cancer. All three diseases are considered avoidable and treatable.

The survival of cancer patients in Bulgaria is lower than the European average for all common cancers, the difference being particularly striking for lung cancer, where in Bulgaria 8% of patients survive, while in the EU they average 15%.

“These relatively low survival rates may be due in part to shortcomings in screening programs and a shortage of health system resources aimed at early detection and diagnosis,” the report said, adding that Bulgaria has not yet developed a national plan for cancer control.

It is pointed out that the mortality rate from COVID-19 is 65% higher than the EU average and while in the first wave in 2020 the pandemic-related deaths in Bulgaria were 6% of all deaths, in the second - at the end of the same year, they reached 89% (the report does not contain information for 2021).

Health risks

The European Commission identifies unhealthy diets as a major health risk, followed by smoking, polluted air and alcohol.

“Nearly half of all deaths may be related to behavioral factors,” the report said. It says that Bulgaria has the highest number of smokers in the EU, that less than 60% exercise, and only one in three eats healthily. While a decade ago Greece led in the number of smokers, now its place is taken by Bulgaria, where one in three adults smokes every day, as well as a third of teenagers. Bulgarian girls are also record-holders in Europe, with 38% of girls under 15 smoking. Thus, it becomes clear why after heart attacks and strokes lung cancer is the third most common cause of premature death in Bulgaria. 11.4 liters of alcohol per capita are consumed annually, but obesity levels are lower than the European average.

The European Commission considers that the lack of results related to smoking cessation is due to the non-implementation of existing legislation and the lack of awareness-raising campaigns on the harms of smoking.

How money is spent on health

The European Commission claims that Bulgarians pay the most for health care in the EU. While 60.6% of expenditures come from the state budget, 37.8% are surcharges for services not included in health packages and for medicines. This is more than 2.5 times the average that EU citizens have to pay for health above their tax deductions. More than 1 million people are uninsured, which limits their access to health care.

The high share of co-payments has a disproportionately large effect on low-income households, the report said.

Health spending has almost doubled in the last decade (+ 83%) but remains the lowest in the EU. The cost per capita is 1273 euros, while in the EU it is on average €3500.

The organization of the health system is also assessed as unbalanced, with the European Commission emphasizing that it is too focused on hospital care and the sale of medicines at the expense of outpatient care and disease prevention. 40% of health expenditures in Bulgaria go to hospitals, 36% to medicines, 18% to outpatient care and 3% to prevention.

According to European experts in Bulgaria, hospitals treat various conditions that can be successfully treated in outpatient care (including asthma and diabetes). On the other hand, the system of issuing referrals for consultations with specialists makes every third person go directly to hospitals (health insured) or pay out of pocket for a visit to a specialist and treatment (if he can afford it).

Thus, the number of patients discharged from hospitals in Bulgaria is twice as high as in the EU, and according to the European Commission this is due to “underdeveloped and underfunded preventive health services and primary care.”

Is there anyone to treat patients?

According to the European report, there are more doctors in Bulgaria than the EU average, but they are not evenly distributed both territorially and by specialty.

In Bulgaria 4.2 doctors per 1000 inhabitants (3.9 in the EU) and 4.4 nurses. However, the distribution of doctors in the country is uneven. Pleven has the most doctors in relation to the population - 63 per 1,000 people, followed by Sofia and Plovdiv - 51 each, and Varna - 50.7. But in Kardzhali there are only 24 doctors per 1,000 potential patients, and in Dobrich and Silistra, 27 and under 28, respectively. It is said that attracting young doctors to remote areas to replace retirees is particularly difficult.

Among the secondary medical staff, Bulgaria, together with Greece and Latvia, has the largest shortage of nurses, the main reasons for this being emigration, aging, poor working conditions and low pay. The report does not fail to note the protests of the sisters before and at the beginning of the pandemic, when they demanded decent pay.

At the same time, the number of people who cannot afford health care due to poverty, lack of health professionals and the need to wait has decreased tenfold in 10 years and has even fallen below the European average. However, the need for additional payment makes many, especially the uninsured, turn to the emergency services, because there the service is free.

The COVID pandemic

According to the European report, at the beginning of the pandemic, the authorities were able to react quickly to increase and redistribute funding for hospital care, tests and teleconsultations. But they have been too slow to implement measures to limit the spread of the second wave. Test levels remain too low despite increased laboratory capacity.

Bulgarian Doctor: Covid is Not the only Explanation for the High Mortality Rate

The European Commission believes that not enough attention is paid to the treatment of patients with COVID-19 at home, and the slow pace of vaccination further exacerbates the impact of the pandemic on human health and society.

The electronic directions for PCR testing and electronic prescriptions are cited as “an important step towards e-health”, but the COVID-19 application is recognized as a failure with only 50 thousand downloads and practically does not work. The report says that in 2021 a system should have been launched to record and store electronic health records and medical data for each patient, including examinations, treatment, prescription forms, laboratory tests, referrals and digital certificates for vaccination against COVID. -19.

/Dnevnik

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The National Statistical Institute announced inflation in December, which is expected to be high. For the year, on average, prices increased by 7.8%.

Bulgaria: 7.8% Annual Inflation in December

The change is different for individual products and services, and there are even some cheaper ones. The Minister of Finance Asen Vassilev expects the most critical months in terms of inflation to be March and April, and most economists predict that energy prices will calm down in the spring and thus will not feed the rise in prices. The pandemic has also made a significant contribution to inflation, since the beginning of which a number of raw materials have risen in price, and governments have launched programs to help businesses and people. In recent years, central banks have printed a lot of money, which has also fueled inflation, which in this case Bulgaria imports.

Consumer price index,%
Compared to the respective month of the previous year

Statistics show, albeit a weak, but a marked trend of a slight decrease in bread consumption in recent years. According to the data in the third quarter of last year, each member of the household consumed 19 kg of bread, while in the same period in 2020 the amount was 19.9 kg, a year earlier - 20.4, in 2018 - 21.3, and in 2017 - 21.8 kg.

This is what the prices of key goods for the eating habits of Bulgarian consumers look like - bread and grain products. The change is compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

Everyone can calculate their personal inflation from this calculator.

Change in the price of bread and grain products compared to the corresponding month of the previous year

/Dnevnik

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“There is a huge jump in the number of COVID patients in the age group of 10-14 and 15-19 years - about 2,500 children a day. This record number will be reflected in the jump this or next week in adult cases.” This was said by the mathematician Lachezar Tomov on Nova TV.

Intensive care beds for children are very few and do not have the capacity to take the expected cases of more seriously ill patients, which will appear five weeks after the peak of the wave.

“I don't count the real cases of children at all, those 2,500 are the tip of the iceberg,” he added.

According to mathematics, no more than 70-80% of green certificates are genuine. He explains this with the high percentage of certified patients who are hospitalized. The actual vaccination rate is probably around 20-23%.

The death toll will rise, the mathematician said.

“So far, nearly 33,000 people have died. Unofficially, this figure is multiplied by 2, which means that the death toll is over 60,000. 1% of the population has already died, another half percent can follow them," Tomov said.

He expressed hope that in two weeks there will be a decline in those infected. Online education will also help. “If there is a decline in children infections, there will be a decline in adults’,” Tomov said.

According to mathematics, the fifth wave will not be very long and will hardly continue after March.

/ClubZ

“The measures that will be taken in the areas with higher morbidity will be taken in 5 days. These are the districts of Sofia-city, Blagoevgrad, Pernik, Stara Zagora, Burgas. These measures will be taken at the district level. We have maximally reflected the desire of the Ministry of Education to preserve the face-to-face education of children from 1st to 4th grade,” said Professor Serbezova. She added: “At the present stage, the current face-to-face learning process is preserved, which is closely monitored. The vacation, announced by Academician Nikolay Denkov, will provide an opportunity for a break without harming the learning process.” This was stated on Nova TV by the Minister of Health, Professor Asena Serbezova.

It’s Final: Introduction of New COVID Measures in Sofia

“The 14-day morbidity varies in different districts of the country. From 265 per 100 thousand people - to 2369 people per 100 thousand people in Blagoevgrad. These large differences are determined by various factors. Therefore, each Regional Headquarters, depending on the situation takes regional measures. With this big difference at the regional level, restrictions at the national level are not needed at the moment.”

According to her, thanks to the model of the Ministry of Health for crisis management with COVID-19, the number of sick medical staff is taken into account. “The number of beds can be increased, but it is very important who will treat us. The morbidity of the medical staff is monitored daily”, the Minister is categorical. According to her, the most problematic in terms of morbidity at the moment is Sofia.

COVID-19 in Bulgaria: When will the Green Certificate Fall

She disagreed with critics of including the criterion for monitoring the occupancy of intensive care beds. “They probably miss that this is not the only factor that is taken into account. We take into account how the virus works, which age groups get sick, how much the system is loaded and how people are treated in outpatient settings. Emergency calls are also counted.”

“Over 90% of those admitted to the intensive care unit have not been vaccinated. I want to appeal - to increase the vaccination coverage. Vaccines do not protect us 100 percent and no one has claimed it, but they protect us from the severe course of the disease,” said Minister Serbezova.

European Green Certificates for Completed Vaccination Course will be Valid for 270 days

She also commented on the topic of green certificates. “The validity of the green certificates will be within 270 days from February 1, as recommended by the EC. At this stage, the antibody certificate is not revoked. Thus, the validity of the document for people with a completed vaccination course will be valid for 9 months. A similar deadline is currently being discussed for people who have had the disease and those with antibodies. However, that depends on the health experts.”

/Nova

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The Spanish frigate Blas de Lezo sails to the Black Sea from the Ferrol naval base on the Atlantic coast.

It is part of a pledge promised by Defense Minister Margarita Robles to bolster NATO forces amid tensions with Russia over the build-up of Russian troops on Ukraine's border.

With a crew of 190, the frigate will join SNMG-2, one of NATO's naval units. The mission was planned in advance, but was withdrawn earlier due to the conflict in Ukraine. This is the second part of military support for the Alliance, after the Meteoro minesweeper sailed from the Canary Islands to the Black Sea four days ago.

 The government is also ready to send fighters to Bulgaria, which has caused serious disagreements among its coalition partners.

Spain has sent Warships to the Black Sea and is Preparing Fighter Jets for Bulgaria

According to Podemos, this is a “serious mistake”, and according to the conservative opposition People's Party, it is the right move. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez held telephone talks with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and European Council President Charles Michel to discuss the possibility of continuing diplomatic talks with Russia.

He tweeted, “It's time for diplomacy,” adding that he was monitoring the situation “very closely.”


/BNR

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One billion levs are provided in the 2022 Budget for food vouchers. This is clear from the bill published on Friday, which should come into force on April 1. With this social benefit, employees will now be able to pay for utilities.

The amount of BGN 1 billion for vouchers that employers provide to their employees significantly exceeds that in previous budgets. Even before the publication of the draft financial framework for this year, Deputy Prime Minister Kornelia Ninova announced the change during a meeting of the Economic Commission:

“The help of the workers is the increase of the vouchers from BGN 80 to BGN 200, which will be able to pay for, in general, utilities, not only food - water, electricity, heating, etc.”

Kornelia Ninova Remains as Leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party

The possibility for employers to provide vouchers for their employees is regulated in the Corporate Taxation Act. Due to the lack of a current budget this year, the regulations need to be clarified from April 1. That is why a few days ago the Ministry of Finance called on the service operators, employers and employees to be patient until all the necessary texts are ready.

/BNR

Life will continue to become more expensive in the coming months. Inflation is likely to remain high throughout the year. This is what the financier Daniel Donchev predicted on the Bulgarian National Radio.

Bulgaria: 7.8% Annual Inflation in December

The pandemic and high energy prices have led to record inflation since 2008. Consumers feel the cost of living mainly in the store:

“Personally, the most expensive thing for me is the increase in the price of dairy products - the price of cheese, fresh milk, butter. In just a few months, it has risen by nearly BGN 2-3 per 250-gram package. But I think prices are much higher than the officially announced inflation of 7.5%.”

Bulgarian Manufacturer: The price of Cheese can Jump up to 100%

And when paying monthly bills:

“I still haven't felt much of a difference in the price of electricity - the consumption I had last year at the same time and now. But I'm more worried about what the price increase would be after the moratorium falls.”

Experts refrain from predicting when inflationary pressures will ease:

“Inflation has already dropped from the bottle and it will be a little difficult to get back quickly. Most likely, it will remain high this year as well. It is possible that in the next few months it will continue to grow as a percentage,” said Daniel Donchev. He also said that the central banks of large economies are already responding to higher inflation by raising the key interest rate.

The most stable currency last year was the US dollar.

/BNR

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Serbian President Alexander Vucic has announced that the country will purchase two more Russian Kamov helicopters.

“Serbia will continue to increase the power of its army, not to attack anyone, but to be able to protect our people at all times,” Vucic told local Pink TV. “We are investing huge funds. We are even spending 500 million euros more for defense than Bulgaria. This is a very important thing. Our army must be powerful. People must unite around this goal - to have a powerful army. We will buy two Russian Firefighting helicopters. These are definitely the best firefighting helicopters. They will be able to help everyone in the region,” Vucic said. According to him, “Serbia must have a strong army so that no one can blackmail the country in the future, as happened in 1998 and 1999 during the Rambouillet meeting.”

BGNES recalls that in the spring of 1999, talks were held in the French town of Rambouillet to resolve the conflict in Kosovo. At the time, the Serbian delegation sent by Slobodan Milosevic refused to accept the proposed plan to resolve the crisis.

/BGNES

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The improved Pfizer vaccine, which will also affect Omicron, will be ready no earlier than March 2022. That's what Pfizer's CEO said. The aim is to vaccinate against covid once a year, and not to have booster doses over a short period of time.

“What I'm hoping for is to have a vaccine that will have to be given once a year - just like many other vaccines,” he said.

Studies in the United States Point to the Need for a Third Dose of Covid Vaccine

The goal of Pfizer is for the new vaccine, that they’re developing, to cover the Omicron variant, but without “forgetting” other variants of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile - violent protests in France against vaccination passports - from tomorrow, everyone older than 16 years of age, will be able to enter establishments only against such a document, health services will also be available only for vaccinated people.

There have also been large-scale demonstrations against vaccination passports in Sweden. Today, protests against vaccines are planned in Belgium and the United States.

/BNT

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According to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, vaccine protection has dropped to 94% during the Delta variant and to 82% during Omicron. These are the first 3 major studies looking at the extent to which vaccines protect against Omicron.

The first study tracked hospital treatment and ambulance visits in 10 states since August, and analysts said the vaccines were most effective after three doses of Pfizer/Biontech or Moderna. Protection from two doses is lower, especially if six months have passed since the second dose.

The second study focused on Covid-19 and mortality in 25 states from early April to Christmas. And here the claim is that the people who were reinforced had higher protection, both during the Delta and Omicron.

The third study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at cases that had symptoms and tested positive for Covid-19 from Dec. 10 to Jan. 1 at more than 4,600 testing sites in the United States.

According to this study, 2 doses of Pfizer/Biontech or Moderna proved to be insufficient for significant protection from Omicron after a few months, and 3 doses showed about 67% efficacy.

The conclusion of the studies so far is that the 3rd dose reduces hospital admissions in at least 90% of cases in both variants of the virus.

/BNR

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Britain has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of plotting to install a pro-Russian politician at the head of the Ukrainian government, British media reported.

The British Foreign Office has made an unusual move, pointing to former Ukrainian MP Yevheniy Murayev as a potential Kremlin candidate.

Murayev, who owns a media, lost his seat in the Ukrainian parliament when his party failed to secure 5% of the vote in the 2019 elections. The Foreign Office points to four other Ukrainian politicians who are linked to Russian intelligence and are working on plans to invade Ukraine.

Most of them were ministers under former pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in 2014. Russia has amassed an army of 100,000 near the border with Ukraine, but has denied that it plans an invasion.

British ministers have warned that the Russian government will face serious consequences if troops enter Ukraine.

A statement from Foreign Minister Liz Truss said: “The information released today sheds light on the extent of Russia's efforts to subjugate Ukraine and the Kremlin's way of thinking. Russia must reduce tensions, end its campaigns of aggression and disinformation, and seek diplomatic channels.”

Russia's Foreign Ministry has called on its British counterparts to stop the provocations. According to Moscow, “London's disinformation is further evidence that NATO, led by the Anglo-Saxons, is working to increase tensions over Ukraine.”

Comment also came from the United States. U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said Washington found allegations of a possible Russian conspiracy very worrying.

/BNR

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German Navy Commander Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach has resigned after being criticized for saying that Vladimir Putin wants respect and Kiev will never regain the Crimean peninsula annexed by Moscow, world news agencies reported.

“I asked the Minister of Defense, Christine Lambrecht, to dismiss me immediately,” the admiral said in a statement. “The minister accepted the request.”

The vice admiral had also called the idea that Russia wanted to invade Ukraine “nonsense.”

What Putin wants is “to be respected,” the admiral said in a video released on the Internet, which was filmed at a meeting of an analysis group in Delhi on Friday. “It's easy to give him the respect he wants and probably deserves,” Schönbach added. He described as nonsense the idea that Russia wanted to invade Ukraine.

Germany Forbids Estonia to Transfer German-Made Weapons to Ukraine

In the afternoon, the Vice Admiral apologized, calling his remarks ill-considered. “It was obviously a mistake,” he added on Twitter. But in a statement later that evening, he explained that he had resigned “so as not to cause further damage to the German navy and especially to the Federal Republic of Germany.”

In the afternoon, the German ambassador to Kiev was summoned to the foreign ministry over the general's statement, which Ukrainian authorities described as “completely unacceptable.”

/BTA

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Germany prevents Estonia from providing military support to Ukraine by refusing to issue permits for the export of weapons of German origin to Kiev amid a potential Russian invasion, writes the American newspaper The Wall Street Journal.

Unlike the United States, Britain, Poland and other allies, the German government has refused to export deadly weapons directly to Ukraine.

In the case of Estonia, Berlin also refused to allow a third country to send artillery to Ukraine, as the weapons originated in Germany, according to Estonian and German officials.

The issue is seen by Western security experts and Ukraine as a test of Berlin's arms transfer policy during a growing crisis in Europe, and points to the difficulties facing the United States and its European allies in forging a common response to the military build-up of Russia near Ukraine and their demands.

“Germany, they are very hesitant to deliver to us,” said Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

German officials said the deadlock was the result of a long-standing policy on arms exports to tense regions.

“The principle that governs arms exports is always the same - whether it comes directly from Germany or from third countries - no permit has been issued at this stage,” said a spokesman for the German government. “It is currently not possible to assess the outcome of the process,” he added.

A spokesman for the Estonian government said his government was still trying to persuade Germany to change its mind.

“We hope to get the approval of Germany,” said Kristo Enn Vaga, an adviser to the Estonian defense minister. “Estonia has shown that we want to help Ukraine in practically every way.”

Ukrainian officials said all weapons were desperately needed and that allowing Estonia to send artillery could be a precedent for sending additional systems of German origin from other countries. Although Estonian weapons will not change the dynamics of the battlefield, Germany's refusal can be read by Moscow as a new sign of division in the West.

/Focus

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The Baltimore Ravens will be desperate to bounce back as quickly as possible after failing to make the playoffs this season, having gone into freefall following their capture of the No.1 seed as the regular season wound down.

It must have been very painful to watch as Chris Boswell scored a field goal from 36 yards out to give the Pittsburgh Steelers a 16-13 win on Sunday. The loss ensured that the 8-9 Ravens ended the season as the first team to go from No.1 to not making the playoffs just six weeks later in the last 19 years.

Strong safety Chuck Clarke didn’t have much to say after the defeat.

“I really only have one message for all of the questions, you know what I’m saying?" he said. "So, every question that is going to come after this, as respectfully as I can say as possible, just watch how we bounce back. That’s all I have to say”

Baltimore made some unwanted history this season, recording one of the worst collapses in NFL history. They were on top of the AFC with an 8-3 record on November 28, which was all the more impressive as they had lost their two best running backs in J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, as well as a pair of Pro Bowl cornerbacks, Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters and All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley for the season.

Confidence was brimming after wins over the Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts, and Los Angeles Chargers, and ESPN’s Football Power Index had their playoff chances at 93.1 percent.

The Ravens would finish the season without another win, racking up six consecutive losses as they began struggling to finish games. The deficits in five of those losses amounted to a combined eight points, with regrettable two-point conversions, defensive mistakes late in games and an unfortunate injury to quarterback Lamar Jackson saw to marginal defeats.

Such drops in form aren’t unusual in the NFL but Baltimore’s recent showing has been a rare occurrence over the last 30 years. The last team to go from No.1 to not making it to the playoffs was the Miami Dolphins, who went from 7-4 in Week 12 to missing the postseason in 2002.

"We fell short in numerous games here down the stretch in the sense that we just couldn’t find a play,” head coach John Harbaugh said. "We couldn’t find a play that we needed.”

Team management will be revisiting the drawing board ahead of next season as there will be no placating Baltimore fans without an immediate return to the playoffs. Maryland sports betting sites will likely have bets in favor of the Ravens as, when fully healthy, they are one of the best teams in the league.

They will have every chance of finding success next year if they return to play at full strength. Of course, some changes are to be expected.

Former team GM Ozzie Newsome always spoke about building the team from the inside out and claimed to believe that everything would fall into place once the Ravens got strong offensive and defensive lines together.

He certainly couldn’t be blamed for thinking as much as the most successful Ravens teams were the ones who could control play at the line of scrimmage. The AFC North is a very physical division, the stronger lines, the better the team.

Current GM Eric DeCosta will likely be guided by such thinking in the offseason after watching on helplessly as Baltimore got destroyed by injuries and late-game breakdowns. The Ravens have plenty of needs, but they will need to place extra focus on the aforementioned lines if they are to dominate the conference next term.

 

Today the weather will be windy and cold again. Before noon the clouds will be broken, in the afternoon more significant and in some places it will snow. This was announced for FOCUS News Agency by the weather forecaster on duty at the National Institute of Hydrology and Meteorology Victoria Kleshtanova.

The wind remains moderate, in the Danube plain and in the eastern regions temporarily strong from the northwest, with it will continue to invade cold air. Maximum temperatures will be mostly between minus 3° and 2° Celsius. In Sofia - minus 4°C.

Over the Black Sea the clouds will be more often significant. A moderate and temporarily strong wind from the north-northwest will blow. Maximum air temperatures: 0°-3°C. The temperature of the sea water: 7°-8°C. The sea wave will be about 2 points.

Above the mountains the clouds will be significant and in many places light snow will fall. It remains windy with strong to stormy winds from the north-northwest. There will be blizzards and gusts along the mountain passes. Cold, with a maximum temperature at an altitude of 1200 meters around minus 9°C, at 2000 meters - around minus 16°C.

/Focus

6,630 are the new cases of COVID-19 in Bulgaria for the past 24 hours. This is shown by the updated data of the Unified Information Portal.

24.98% of the 26,541 tests performed are positive. Most new cases are in Sofia - 2,039, followed by the districts: Burgas - with 686 and Plovdiv - with 584 newly infected.

81.25 percent of the 32 people who died on the last day were not vaccinated. With them the number of victims of coronavirus in our country reaches 32,636 since the beginning of the pandemic.

The total confirmed cases are 877,381, of which 200,978 are active. The number of new patients in a hospital for the last 24 hours is 258, and 82.17 percent of them have not been vaccinated.

The total number of hospitalized is 5,216, of which 547 are in the intensive care units. 643,767 have been cured since the beginning of the pandemic, including 1,249 in the past day.

A total of 4,095,421 doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered in the country, including 3,737 for the last 24 hours. A total of 1,975,836 people have completed the vaccination cycle, and 567,878 of them have received a booster dose.

/Focus

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