(Reuters) – According to official data, more than 50% more people died in Bulgaria in September than usual, making the least vaccinated country in the European Union hardest hit during a resurgence of coronavirus cases in late summer.
Bulgaria had the highest excess mortality in the EU, followed by Lithuania, Greece and Romania – all over 30%, according to a Eurostat report comparing additional deaths to pre-pandemic levels.
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The pandemic in Eastern Europe has worsened since September, with Bulgaria hitting record numbers of daily coronavirus deaths in recent weeks.
According to a Statista report, Bulgaria had administered only 44 doses of vaccine per 100 population until last week – the lowest rate of any European country.
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It has one of the highest COVID-19 death rates per capita in the world, as does Romania with the second lowest vaccination rate in the EU and where the elderly are particularly affected.
According to Eurostat, the number of deaths across the European Union rose to 12% in September and rose rapidly in late summer from a low of 5% in July.
The region had peaked in November 2020 with 40% additional deaths.
The countries with the lowest excess mortality in September included Sweden and Belgium. Belgium in particular faced high death rates at the beginning of the pandemic.
(Reporting by Sarah Morland; editing by Peter Graff)
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