Gayane Sahakian, the deputy director of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention, also announced that Armenia will receive its first coronavirus vaccine doses before the second half of February.
“We are planning to acquire vaccines for 10 percent of the population to carry out at first vaccinations of only high risk groups,” Sahakian told a news conference.
“We are now holding negotiations on concrete time frames for their imports. We are confident that we will have the first imports by the end of January or the first half of February,” she said.
Sahakian said the talks center on possible supplies of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V or three other certified vaccines that have been developed by the Western pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca. It is still not clear which of them will be chosen by the Armenian government, added the official.
Sahakian announced in early December that the government has commissioned 600,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines from COVAX Facility, a global partnership backed by the World Health Organization. She said Armenian medical and social workers, seniors and people suffering from chronic diseases will be the first to get vaccine shots free of charge.
The official did not clarify on Tuesday whether the government’s supply contract with COVAX, worth $6 million, remains in force. Nor did she say if the health authorities could vaccinate a larger proportion of the population later this year.
Armenia has been hit hard by the pandemic, with more than 162,000 coronavirus cases and at least 2,941 deaths caused by them reported by the authorities so far. The real number of cases is believed to be much higher.
The daily number of new infections has fallen significantly since the beginning of November. The Armenian Ministry of Health reported on Tuesday morning that 355 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, sharply down from more than 2,000 cases a day routinely recorded in late October and early November.
Sahakian acknowledged that the country’s coronavirus numbers will likely rise again after the New Year’s and Christmas holidays and the reopening of schools. But she did not predict a serious resurgence of cases.