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Moldova Receives First COVID-19 Shots From Romania

The vaccines arrived at Chisinau airport in a red air ambulance plane from Romania on February 27.
The vaccines arrived at Chisinau airport in a red air ambulance plane from Romania on February 27.

Romania has delivered the first batch of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 shots to Moldova, enabling one of Europe's poorest countries to begin its vaccination campaign.

Moldova has struggled in the global scramble to gain access to vaccines and welcomed donations for its 3.5 million people.

In December, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis pledged Moldova 200,000 vaccine doses from its quota allotted by the European Union during a visit to Chisinau meant to support the country's new pro-Western president, Maia Sandu.

It was the first visit by Romania's president to Moldova in six years, representing a clear thaw in relations between the neighbors after years of poor ties under former pro-Russian President Igor Dodon.

Moldova is deeply divided between those who support closer ties with Russia and those who advocate links with EU member Romania, with which it shares a common culture, history, and language.

"Romania keeps its promise.... Today we deliver the first doses, 21,600 of AstraZeneca," Romanian Prime Minister Florin Citu wrote on his Facebook page on February 27. "It is the first batch of the 200,000 does that we offer as humanitarian aid. The rest will follow in the coming months."

Sandu said the first shots would go into the arms of doctors, health-care professionals, and front-line workers in the pandemic in the next few days.

"Thank you, Romania! Thank you, European Union!" she wrote in a message on Facebook.

The government also expects a first shipment of 14,400 AstraZeneca doses under the global COVAX scheme for poorer countries to arrive in Moldova by March 3.

Moldova this week authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines, the two shots registered for emergency use by the World Health Organization.

It also approved Russia's Sputnik V after a brief political stir when Dodon accused Sandu of trying to block the vaccine's use in Moldova.

The presidential office denied blocking the Russian shot.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Moldovan Service and Reuters
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