Communist Past Drives COVID Sentiments in Eastern Europe

“A village vanishes daily in Romania!” declares Catalin Cirstoiu, head of the Bucharest University Emergency Hospital, AP reports
In recent weeks, Romania has reported the world’s highest per-capita COVID-19 death rate, The New York Times reports.
Overwhelmed doctors lament that vaccines could have undercut the surge, but Romania has the EU’s second-lowest vaccination rate–-with ~40% of the population vaccinated (the EU average: 75%), amid mistrust in the authorities and institutions, poor communication about the vaccines’ benefits, and embedded anti-vaccination movements pushed by religious figures and prominent politicians.
Among Romania’s most prominent anti-vaxxers: MP Diana Sosoaca, who slams the vaccinated as “lambs to the slaughter,” RadioFreeEurope reports, and dominates the political social media discourse.

Not helping: Romania’s centrist coalition government collapsed last month, leaving the country without a government, the Times notes.
Historical context: Other Eastern European nations like Bulgaria and Latvia face a similar struggle with mistrust of authorities that helps disinformation thrive.
Uniting these sentiments across borders: A “shared communist past and widespread disenchantment with the disarray and corruption that followed.”

Related: WHO: Coronavirus cases declining everywhere except Europe – AP

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