Poland’s total number of coronavirus-related deaths surpassed 100,000 on Tuesday, the health minister said, as the country struggles to convince people to get vaccinated despite persistently high infection rates.
The number of deaths per one million inhabitants was last week among the highest in the world, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford, at more than 57 compared to around 34 in the United States and 38 in Russia.
“Today we can say it is another sad day, but especially so because we have passed the level of 100,000 COVID deaths,” Adam Niedzielski told private broadcaster TVN 24.
With 55.8% of the population fully vaccinated compared to 68.7% for the European Union as a whole, the country has one of the lowest rates of double-jabbed citizens in the bloc.
Vaccine hesitancy has been particularly pronounced in central and eastern Europe, with some experts attributing it to decades of Communist rule that eroded public trust in state institutions and left underdeveloped healthcare systems.
“Poland is the country with relatively the lowest willingness to get vaccinated in Europe, and this was evident from flu vaccinations,” Niedzielski said.
The country has been grappling with a consistently high number of daily COVID-19 cases. Although it has not reported a rise in cases caused by the Omicron variant of the virus, it imposed new restrictions in December to curb the spread of infection.
As of Monday, the health ministry estimates that the Omicron variant accounted for between 7% and 8% of new daily cases.
Poland reported around 11,406 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 493 deaths related to the disease.
Poland reported 794 COVID-related deaths in one day in late December, while the highest daily toll during the pandemic overall stands at 954, hit in April last year.
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