COVID anti-vaxxer attacks doctor in Bulgaria

SOFIA – Ivaylo Ivanov was leafing through a folder of documents in his spartan doctor’s office in Novo Selo, a sleepy village in northern Bulgaria, when he received an unexpected visitor on January 17.

With the camera on, one of the country’s most notorious anti-vaccination opponents, Ventsislav Angelov, stormed in, followed by a woman whose husband – with a history of heart problems – had died after apparently being vaccinated against COVID-19 by Ivanov.

“I’m going to kill you, I’m telling you! Hey, you bastard!” Angelov, also nicknamed “Chicago,” can be heard in the video, which will be streamed live on his Facebook page.

Angelov, who has dabbled in right-wing politics and is a high-profile crusader against coronavirus lockdowns and vaccinations, was later arrested amid a wave of support for Ivanov, who was bloodied in the attack, as was Angelov.

The mayor of Novo Selo, Mareila Yordanova, told the Bulgarian service of RFE/RL that Ivanov was devastated by the incident and had testified before the police. “Right now, several villages don’t have a doctor because of this case,” Yordanova said on January 18.

The incident has put a renewed spotlight on Bulgaria, an EU country of about 7 million people with less than 30 percent of the population vaccinated and struggling to contain a fifth wave of the pandemic.

Bulgaria reported a record 11,181 coronavirus infections in a single day on January 18, official data showed, dominated by the more contagious Omicron variant.

The number of infections in Bulgaria exceeds 840,000, with 32,332 deaths since the pandemic began.

It’s unclear what charges could be brought against Angelov, but the Bulgarian Doctors’ Union (BLS) has urged police to pursue the case by all means. “The BLS will not tolerate doctors being humiliated, harassed and attacked while trying to do their job,” it said.

Conspiracy weaving agenda

It is one of two attacks on medical workers reported in Bulgaria in recent days.

Relatives of a patient in a COVID-19 ward stormed into a hospital in Ruse, a city in north-eastern Bulgaria, claiming he did not have the virus and demanding that he be transferred, Bulgarian National TV reported on January 18th.

After the two incidents, Health Minister Asena Serbezova came to the defense of the country’s health workers, saying they deserve respect and not violence. in a Facebook post.

Prime Minister Kiril Petkov’s new centrist government has repeatedly appealed for Bulgarians to get vaccinated to avoid pressure on hospitals that could impose tougher containments.

Much of the anti-vaccine skepticism in Bulgaria is fueled by disinformation being spread across social media platforms by figures such as Angelov and other prominent figures and politicians, particularly but not limited to members of the ultra-right Revival party with its anti -NATO, anti-EU and COVID-19 conspiracy agenda.

Revival members led by party leader Kostadin Kostadinov, who has called COVID-19 vaccines an “experiment”, were in force A large crowd gathered in front of Parliament in Sofia on January 12. Against a cordon of riot police, they protested against vaccines and other COVID-19 measures, including possible vaccination mandates or so-called vaccination passports.

However, the party recently found itself embarrassed after Bulgaria’s private and independent bTV reported that four of Revival’s 13 MPs in parliament – Nikolay Drenchev, Ivo Ruschev, Stoyan Taslakov and Daniel Petrov – appeared to have ignored the party line and got the jab. Like the others interviewed by bTV, Ruschev denied that he was against the COVID-19 vaccinations but presented it as a matter of his personal choice.

“The fight right now is not for vaccinated or unvaccinated people. We don’t fight for it. We fight for people’s rights. I made my own choice and got vaccinated,” Ruschev said.

Widespread disinformation

To back up their claims, Drenchev and other anti-vaccination opponents in Bulgaria often cite Atanas Mangarov, a Sofia-based pediatrician and infectious disease specialist.

Mangarov is widely quoted in Bulgarian media and has millions of followers on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, where he cites his own refusal to get vaccinated and shares stories of vaccine backlash and resistance to vaccination regulations.

He rejects the type of immunity that comes with vaccination in favor of natural immunity through infection, which he says is the only guarantee against new coronavirus variants.

Amid the disinformation spun by Mangarov and others, including Angelov, the Bulgarian Ministry of Health was prompted to issue a statement on Jan. 18 stressing that there was no scientifically proven link between COVID-19 vaccinations and vaccine-related deaths.

“There is no case of proven causal relationship between the COVID-19 vaccine and death in Bulgaria,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement quoted by the Bulgarian service of RFE/RL.

After the riot in Novo Selo, RFE/RL tried unsuccessfully to contact both Angelov and Ivanov.

The BLS said it will stand by Ivanov and offer him and any other “violent doctor” legal counsel.

It was unclear what charges, if any, Bulgarian prosecutors might bring against Angelov, who has run into trouble with the law on a number of occasions in the past.

In September, a group of anti-vaccination groups confronted a medical team at a vaccination center in the Black Sea port city of Varna, hurled abuse at doctors and urged them to stop vaccinations.

Yordanova, the mayor of Novo Selo, said Ivanov was devastated by the incident but relatively fine “as far as you can be healthy in a situation like this”.

She also added details about the local man who died days after being vaccinated. According to Yordanova, the dead man’s family has lived in Germany for at least 10 years and the man has had several heart surgeries abroad.

“He only had heart problems. They didn’t tell the doctor about it,” said the mayor, stressing that Doctor Ivanov is valued in the village and the surrounding area. “The doctor has served us for years and does not deserve this treatment at all.”

Based on reports by Polina Paunova and Damyana Veleva from RFE/RL’s Bulgarian Service and written by Tony Wesolowsky

About admin

Check Also

Up close and personal” with BPO

Fri, May 13, 2022 12:35 p.m Artpark & ​​Company announced “Opera in Concert at Artpark: …