BEFORE AND DURING THE OUTBREAK: PREREQUISITES FOR THE HIGH COVID-19 MORTALITY RATE IN BULGARIA. EMPIRICAL INSIGHTS FROM SHARE DATA

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Ph. D. Ekaterina Tosheva
Ph. D. Gabriela Yordanova
Ph. D. Ekaterina Lyubenova Markova

Resumen

The first wave of Covid-19 (March-June 2020) did not hit Bulgaria to the same extent as it did other
countries in Europe (Italy, Spain, Belgium, United Kingdom). The severe second wave of the
pandemic in Bulgaria was in November-December 2020, with a third wave in March-April 2021, but
Bulgaria had the second highest case mortality rate in Europe. The aim of this article is to analyse
the empirical insights into the health expectancy and self-rated health of Bulgarians aged 50+ before
and during the outbreak, which need to be taken into account as one of the important factors
contributing to the high mortality rate of Covid-19. The analysis is based on SHARE wave 7 and the
SHARE corona survey, conducted in July-August 2020. The data analysis results indicate that a
significant share of Bulgarians aged 50 and over suffer from conditions considered high-risk for Covid19. A steady tendency to overestimate personal health can be observed even before the pandemic.
The general health attitudes of elderly Bulgarians have not changed much. The overestimation of
personal health, despite the presence of more than 2 chronic conditions, regular medication,
combined with non-attendance of preventive examinations, dangerous habits and physical immobility
increase the risk of acute viral diseases. The deteriorating health status of the elderly in Bulgaria
appears to be a strategic risk factor in the case of an epidemic, which is confirmed by the Covid-19
crisis outcomes. In spite of the problems in the Bulgarian health system as a whole, personal attitudes
towards health should be prioritized by public measures and policies, along with promoting an
improvement in health culture, physical activity and preventive medical examinations.

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