YEREVAN — The Norwegian government and Moderna have pledged to give Armenia more than 620,000 doses of a coronavirus vaccine manufactured by the U.S. biotech company, Health Minister Anahit Avanesyan announced on Friday.
Avanesyan said the Armenian Ministry of Health signed a “trilateral agreement” to that effect with them on Thursday.
“Thank you the Kingdom of Norway and the Moderna company for your efforts to overcome the pandemic,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
Avanesyan said that the European Union will assist in the upcoming shipments of Moderna’s Spikevax vaccine to Armenia. She gave no dates for their delivery.
Moderna’s co-founder and chairman, Noubar Afeyan, is an Armenian-American billionaire businessman. Afeyan has financed various charity projects in Armenia.
Armenia has already received smaller quantities of vaccines donated by the governments of France, Belgium, Lithuania, China and Russia.
Health authorities in the South Caucasus state began using earlier this month 50,000 doses of Spikevax provided by the Lithuanian government. Armenians were previously inoculated only with Chinese and Russian vaccines as well as the Astra Zeneca jab developed by Oxford University.
Avanesyan said in July that Armenia will buy this fall 50,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine and 300,000 doses of the Novavax jab. Shortly afterwards the Armenian government allocated funds for the purchase of 300,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. None of those vaccines have been imported yet.
The latest donation pledge comes as the authorities in Yerevan are trying to speed up the slow pace of vaccinations in the country of about 3 million amid rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations that have overwhelmed the Armenian healthcare system.
As of October 17, just over 403,000 people there received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and only about 185,000 of them were fully vaccinated.
Starting from October 1, all Armenian workers are required to get inoculated or take coronavirus tests twice a month at their own expense. Avanesyan said last week that the authorities could also introduce a mandatory coronavirus health pass for entry to cultural and leisure venues.
The Ministry of Health said on Friday that 42 more Armenians have died from COVID-19 in the past day. The ministry also reported five other deaths indirectly caused by the disease.