Moldova is first European country to receive Covid vaccines from WHO equality scheme

Joanna Taylor
·1-min read

Moldova has become the first European country to receive Covid vaccines from the global COVAX scheme, aimed at making vaccines available in poorer countries.

Announcing the news on Twitter, Moldova’s president Maia Sandu said that the first 14,400 doses arrived last night. She thanked Germany, the EU, UK, US, Canada and Japan “for solidarity”, as well as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Unicef who are involved in COVAX.

Others, including the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and public–private partnership Gavi, are involved in the scheme, which says it will provide vaccine doses to at least 20 per cent of people in participating countries.

The Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana were the first to receive COVAX vaccines and a further 11 million doses have now been shipped to Columbia, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Moldova, Niger, Rwanda and others.

Moldova and its neighbour Ukraine are two of Europe’s poorest countries and have relied on vaccine donations to inoculate their populations.

Last week, Ms Sandu accepted a batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Romania, whose president Klau Iohannis promised Moldova 200,000 doses last year.

Vaccine distribution has caused a political row in Moldova. The pro-West Ms Sandu, who was elected in November, was accused by her predecessor, the pro-Moscow Igor Dodon, of trying to block Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

But Ms Sandu denies this and Moldova’s medicines agency has approved the Sputnik V, on top of those developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca.

Moldova has reported almost 200,000 Covid cases and more than 4,000 deaths. The Eastern European country has a population of around 2.7 million.

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