RFL/RE – COVID-19 vaccination programs in Ukraine, Georgia, and Iran were given a boost over the weekend as health officials announced progress in getting their populations inoculated.
Ukraine’s deputy health minister, Viktor Lyashko, said on January 30 that his country will receive 117,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot in February via COVAX, a facility coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to support lower-income countries in accessing vaccines.
The vaccine will be immediately distributed to inoculate employees of hospitals who provide care to patients with COVID-19, Lyashko said on Facebook.
Ukraine will also receive between 2.2 and 3.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the first half of 2021.
Georgia, meanwhile, will receive the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine at the end of February, Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said on Facebook on January 30..
Gakharia did not specify how many doses would arrive, but he said the vaccination of medical personnel would begin immediately after the first doses arrive.
Gakharia’s announcement came on the same day that several dozen restaurateurs, owners of hospitality businesses, and fitness centers demonstrated in Tbilisi to demand the lifting of COVID-19 measures, RFE/RL’s Georgian Service reported.
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The Georgian government has said the regulations will stay in place until the situation improves.
Elsewhere, Iran expects to receive the first batch of Russia’s Sputnik-V coronavirus vaccine by February 4, the IRNA state news agency reported.
“A contract for the purchase and joint production was signed yesterday between Iran and Russia,” said Tehran’s ambassador to Moscow, Kazem Jalali, according to IRNA on January 30.
Two more batches are to be delivered later in February, he added.
Despite criticism of the way trials of the vaccine were conducted, Sputnik-V has also been registered in Russia, Belarus, Argentina, Bolivia, Serbia, Palestine, Venezuela, Paraguay, Turkmenistan, the U.A.E., and the Republic of Guinea.
It has also been cleared for emergency use in European Union member Hungary even though it has yet to be greenlighted by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the EU’s drug regulator.
The latest vaccine announcements come as governments in Europe and elsewhere move to curb international travel amid already tight restrictions as virus mutations show signs of spreading to dozens of countries around the globe.
Health officials have expressed concerns over whether vaccines will provide sufficient protection, particularly against virus mutations originally detected in South Africa and Brazil.