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Armenian Government Eyes COVID-19 Vaccine Supplies


Russia -- A scientist examines COVID-19 infected cells under a microscope during research for a vaccine against the coronavirus at a laboratory of BIOCAD biotechnology company in Saint Petersburg, May 20, 2020.

The Armenian government is negotiating with foreign corporations and international organizations in hopes of securing supplies of a potential coronavirus vaccine to Armenia beforehand, Health Minister Arsen Torosian announced on Thursday.

Torosian said he is optimistic that such a vaccine will be developed in the coming months.

“We are now holding negotiations in two directions,” he told a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan. “The first one is [drug] manufacturers. I am personally negotiating with them.

“For example, yesterday I spoke with the commercial director of the [Massachusetts-based] Moderna company which is linked to our [Armenian-American] compatriot Noubar Afeyan. Their MRN 1723 vaccine … is one of the strongest vaccine candidates.”

“We are also negotiating with the World Health Organization and UNICEF platforms that will be trying to make collective purchases to ensure that there is a proportionate distribution of large doses [of the vaccine] among numerous countries,” added Torosian.

Armenia -- Health Minister Arsen Torosian speaks at a cabinet meeting, Yerevan, July 2, 2020.
Armenia -- Health Minister Arsen Torosian speaks at a cabinet meeting, Yerevan, July 2, 2020.

More than 100 vaccines are being developed and tested around the world to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed hundreds of thousands and ravaged the global economy. None of the major drugmakers and research institutes has reported a successful completion of those tests so far.

Torosian predicted that a much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine may well be developed and be on the market before the end of this year.

“The biggest risk here is that some countries could buy large quantities of manufactured or even not yet manufactured vaccines which will consequently reach other countries much later … That is why it is very important to start negotiations now, even before having a [developed] end product,” explained the minister.

“According to various estimates, a vaccine will be available to countries at the end of 2020 or at the beginning of 2021,” he said.

Armenia has one of the highest infection rates in the world, with a total of 26,658 coronavirus cases recorded in the country of about 3 million as of Thursday morning. According to the Armenian health authorities, 593 people tested positive for the virus on Wednesday.

The authorities also reported the deaths of 10 more people infected with the disease. They said COVID-19 was the main cause of six of those fatalities which raised the official death toll to 459.

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