Countries in the region have the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, with less than half of the population receiving a single dose.
Hungary leads the region in vaccination rates with 62% of its population having received at least one injection, while Ukraine has only administered a single dose to 19% of its population, according to Our World in Data.
New infections in the region have steadily increased and now average at least 83,700 new cases per day, the highest level since November last year, Reuters data showed through Friday. Despite having just four percent of the world’s population, Eastern Europe accounts for around 20 percent of all new cases reported globally.
According to a Reuters analysis, three of the top five countries with the highest number of deaths in the world are in Eastern Europe: Russia, Ukraine and Romania.
More social gathering indoors after restrictions were lifted just as winter sets in is leading to an increase in COVID-19 infections in many countries in Europe, the emergency director of the UK said on Thursday. World Health Organization, Mike Ryan.
As the wave of infections intensifies, many people in Eastern Europe are torn between the challenge and regret of not getting the vaccine.
Hundreds of people protested in Sofia, Bulgaria and other cities against the mandatory certificates that went into effect on Thursday, limiting access to many indoor public spaces to those who have been vaccinated.
A European Commission poll, the Eurobarometer, has shown that at least one in three people in most eastern European Union countries do not trust the healthcare system, compared to an overall average of 18 %.
More than 40% of all new cases reported in Eastern Europe were in Russia, with 120 people testing positive every five minutes, according to a Reuters analysis. The country’s health system is under great pressure, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said on Wednesday. The nation reported record COVID deaths for the fourth day in a row on Friday.
So far, Russia has vaccinated around 36% of its population with a single shot of the vaccine.
Moscow, the most populous city and capital in the country, will close all businesses next week except essential stores such as supermarkets and pharmacies to stem the spread of the disease.
Slovakia reported 3,480 new cases of COVID-19 on October 19, its highest daily tally since March, data from the Health Ministry showed on Wednesday. The country has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the EU, with just over half of the country’s fully vaccinated adult population of 5.5 million. This has contributed to an increase in infections faster than in some neighboring countries.
In Romania, hospitals are overcrowded, with emergency beds fully occupied across the country. The morgues were also operating at full capacity. The country reported a record number of coronavirus deaths and infections on Tuesday. The virus was killing one person every five minutes on average this month in a country with low vaccination rates.
Ukraine recorded a daily record for new coronavirus infections and related deaths for the second day in a row on Friday. He also extended the state of emergency which allows authorities to impose restrictions until the end of the year in an attempt to curb infections.