Photographs released by the Armenian Ministry of Health showed workers at Yerevan’s Zvartnots international airport unloading containers filled with the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab from a cargo plane.
Another European Union member state, Lithuania, donated and delivered 27,500 doses of the same vaccine to Armenia last Friday.
In early August, France pledged to provide 200,000 vaccine doses to the South Caucasus country.
The donations are significant for the country of about 3 million where only 303,325 vaccine shots were administered as of September 5. Just over 108,000 of its residents have been fully vaccinated since the launch of the Armenian government’s immunization campaign in April, according to the Ministry of Health.
The campaign has been seriously hampered by widespread vaccine hesitancy. In a bid to accelerate it, the government is resorting to administrative measures.
Health Minister Anahit Avanesian on Monday reaffirmed her recent decision to require all public and private sector employees refusing vaccination to take coronavirus tests twice a month at their own expense. She said that entities and individuals not complying with the new requirement, effective from October 1, will risk fines.
In televised comments to the government’s press service, Avanesian said health authorities will have enough vaccines to inoculate a much larger proportion of the population. The minister reaffirmed government plans to purchase this fall large quantities of vaccines manufactured by U.S. pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Novavax.
The authorities have until now received and used only vaccines developed by Russia, China as well as Oxford University and the Anglo-Swedish company AstraZeneca.
Avanesian said a faster vaccine rollout is essential for countering a slow but steady increase in daily coronavirus cases, which began in June and is now threatening to overwhelm Armenia’s healthcare system.
She said the upward trend will likely continue in the weeks ahead given the start of a new academic year in the Armenian schools and universities. They were most recently reopened in December.
The Ministry of Health said on Monday morning that 13 more people have died from COVID-19 in the past day, bringing to 6,088 the total number of officially registered coronavirus-related deaths in the country.