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.
Visiting Moscow last week, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to help the Armenian government buy many more jabs for its vaccination program. “We need more than a million doses,” Pashinian said.
Avanesian 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.
Armenia has been hit hard by the pandemic and is currently grappling with a third wave of coronavirus infections that began in late February. Critics blame the resurgence of the acute respiratory disease on the authorities’ failure to enforce their physical distancing and sanitary rules.
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.