In a statement, the U.S. government agency said the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, will receive the funding to “provide targeted technical assistance to support and ensure effective implementation of COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Armenia.”
The statement said the allocation brought to $11 million the total amount of coronavirus-related aid provided by USAID to the country since the outbreak of the pandemic.
“This includes emergency funding to address immediate health needs and efforts to address the secondary and tertiary impacts of the pandemic on democratic development and economic growth,” it said.
Although Armenia has been hit hard by the pandemic and is currently grappling with a third wave of coronavirus infections, its government plans to vaccinate only a limited proportion of the population.
The country of about 3 million received on March 28 the first major batch of a COVID-19 vaccine from the COVAX Facility, the World Health Organization’s global vaccine-sharing scheme. The 24,000 doses of the vaccine developed by the AstraZeneca pharmaceutical giant and Oxford University will be made available to medical workers, care home personnel, persons aged 65 and older as well as younger people suffering from chronic diseases.
Healthcare workers were due to start administering the vaccine on Monday. The inoculations were postponed by several days due what the authorities called logistical problems.
Deputy Health Minister Lena Nanushian said on Wednesday that Armenia is continuing to negotiate with Russia on the acquisition of a smaller amount of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.
Nanushian also told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that COVAX has offered the Armenian government to supply other coronavirus vaccines developed by the U.S. companies Novavax and Johnson & Johnson.
“[The offer] has been discussed with a team of [health] specialists and the country has replied to COVAX that it is ready to acquire these vaccines as well,” she said.
The official did not specify how many doses of the Novavax and Johnson & Johnson vaccines could be delivered to Armenia.
The daily number of coronavirus cases in the country and deaths caused by them has increased sharply since the end of February.
The Armenian Ministry of Health said earlier on Wednesday that 1,025 new cases have been registered in the past day. It also reported the deaths of 24 more people infected with COVID-19.
According to the ministry, there were only 6 vacant beds at the intensive care units of Armenian hospitals treating COVID-19 patients. Nearly 280 of those patients were in a critical condition.