Postcard From Bulgaria – Lockdown Sceptics

Indeed the general tone of the conversation here is much freer than in the UK. On local TV the morning news chat shows run long form interviews with a wide range of medical and epidemiological professionals. The hosts on these shows aren’t looking for a gotcha moment, instead, they provide a platform for airing detailed, professional opinion. Of several dozen such interviews I’ve half-watched while doing other things, my general impression is that they’re big on whole-of-health approaches; eat well, go outside and get exercise and sunshine, support your immune system whichever way you see fit. One further suggested that long lockdowns may harm our immune strength because of reduced interaction with diverse pathogens. I can’t imagine any UK channel have the balls to run a story like that at present. The mainstream news is – of course – full of pro vaccine propaganda, but it’s a credit to the networks here that they offer their audience a fuller and more nuanced discussion on health topics.

Speaking of vaccines, the rollout here is going slowly, for two reasons. One is the EU’s sluggish procurement, but the other again speaks to that underling Bulgarian fuckyouness: the Government keeps reminding that they’ve only ordered enough vaccine for 40% of the population… ”so hurry and get yours today!”… to which the oft-giggled refrain is that 40% will be plenty; citing a poll result that reckons only ~20% of so of the population actually want one. My wife regales us with a claim from her hairdresser that you can buy a silicon arm covering to be worn so you can pretend to have a vaccine, but which protects you from the needle. And another that you can already buy a vaccine certificate on the black market. Entrepreneurialism meets distrust of authority.

In England – and most of the west – the combo of policing and virtue signalling with respect to masks has been eye-opening. Here people seem more normal, less indoctrinated by the madness. You can’t enter a building without a mask, but as soon as I enter my friend’s office – the masks come off. We’re satisfying the rules in public, but in private few believes these measures help. At a perfectly legal birthday party with people from six households yesterday, none arrived wearing masks and just one of the six families even mentioned wearing marks, a suggestion of which they were promptly disabused by the peer pressure of the rest of us. In contrast to the UK, everyone here has either had Covid themselves, or knows someone who has… many have elderly relatives who have had it, some have frail elderly relatives who’ve been in and out of hospitals for months or years, and for whom it has meant their deaths. I’ve heard several say these were not untimely, and perhaps a better fate than languishing in substandard care homes. Bulgarians are not scared – they understand the life involves risk, and suffering.

Postcard From Bulgaria – Lockdown Sceptics