The 25,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab were delivered to Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport and handed over to the Armenian Ministry of Health in the presence of French diplomats.
French President Emmanuel Macron touted the shipment on his Twitter and Facebook pages. Macron cited his August 3 pledge to provide 200,000 doses of vaccines to Armenia.
“The rest of the deliveries will continue tomorrow and in the weeks to come in coordination with the Armenian authorities,” read a statement released by the French Embassy in Yerevan. “France stands with Armenia in dealing with the pandemic.”
Armenia received earlier this month 187,000 and 27,500 doses of the same vaccine from Belgium and Lithuania respectively.
The donations are significant for the country of about 3 million where only about 336,000 vaccine shots were administered as of September 12. Fewer than 122,000 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, Health Minister Anahit Avanesian decided late last month to require virtually all public and private sector employees refusing vaccination to take coronavirus tests twice a month at their own expense.
Avanesian defended last week the unpopular measure effective from October 1. She said Armenians not complying with it should not only face heavy fines but also risk losing their jobs.
The daily number of officially confirmed coronavirus cases in Armenia has been slowly but steadily rising since June. The Ministry of Health reported on Tuesday morning 657 new cases and 21 coronavirus-related deaths.