YEREVAN — Armenia will start on Tuesday vaccinating a small percentage of its population against COVID-19, Health Minister Anahit Avanesyan announced on Monday.
Avanesian said frontline workers, seniors and people suffering from chronic illnesses will be the first to be inoculated at government-funded medical centers across the country.
Those of them who are aged 55 and older will receive a vaccine developed by the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca because of lingering concerns about its safety for younger persons, she told reporters. The other people most at risk from the coronavirus will be offered the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, she said.
Armenia received on March 28 24,000 AstraZeneca vaccine shots from COVAX Facility, a global vaccine-sharing scheme. It went on to import 15,000 doses of Sputnik V on April 8.
Avanesyan said Yerevan is close to finalizing a deal with COVAX for the acquisition of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by the U.S. company Novavax. In addition, she said, China has “tentatively” agreed to donate vaccine shots to Armenia.
The minister did not specify the likely volume of these planned deliveries. But she did announce that the government’s objective is to have up to 700,000 Armenians vaccinated within a year.
Avanesyan also said that the Armenian Ministry of Economy is negotiating with Russia on the production of the Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in Armenia. According to her, in order to start producing a vaccine, it is necessary to have a professional production infrastructure.
“We hope that our pharmaceutical companies will invest to start joint production,” the minister said.
The Armenian Ministry of Health said earlier on Monday that 510 more people in the country of about 3 million have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past day.
The ministry also reported 18 new deaths caused by COVID-19, bringing the official death toll to 3,753.