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Moldova Becomes First European Country To Receive COVID-19 Vaccines Under COVAX Scheme


A health worker receives a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a hospital in Chisinau on March 2.
A health worker receives a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a hospital in Chisinau on March 2.

Moldovan President Maia Sandu says her country has received a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines under the global COVAX scheme for poorer countries, a first for Europe.

"These 14,400 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will help us continue to immunize health-care staff and curb the spread of the virus. We are doing all we can to allow citizens of Moldova to gain access to more free-of-charge COVID-19 vaccines as fast as possible," Sandu said on Facebook.

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The pro-Western president thanked Germany and other EU member states, as well as the United States, Britain, Canada, Japan, and the European Commission for showing “solidarity.”

In a statement on March 4, the World Health Organization said the country had secured enough doses of vaccines through COVAX to cover about 1.7 million people, roughly half of its population.

Moldova has struggled in the global scramble to gain access to vaccines and welcomed donations.

The Moldovan drug regulator last month registered three vaccines -- Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and the Russian-made Sputnik V -- for use in Moldova.

Moldova's vaccine procurement has stirred a domestic political row as former President Igor Dodon, a Moscow-backed politician who lost to Sandu in November 2020, accused her of trying to block the entry of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine. Sandu's office denied doing so.

Last week, Romania donated 21,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Moldova, enabling one of Europe's poorest countries to begin its vaccination campaign.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in December pledged Moldova 200,000 vaccine doses from its quota allotted by the European Union.

Moldova has registered more than 191,000 coronavirus infections and over 4,000 fatalities.

With reporting by RFE/RL’s Moldovan Service
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