Sat, 08 May 2021

Dashboard: Vaccinating Eurasia - May

Eurasianet
02 May 2021, 04:49 GMT+10

ARMENIA

Approved: Sputnik V, AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech

Population: 3 million

Fifty-six percent of Armenians will not seek a vaccine, CivilNet reported on April 19, citing a survey conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Center. The survey found women and young people less likely to accept a jab. Armenia's vaccination campaign got off to a slow start on April 13, our correspondent reports. The Health Ministry says it does not regularly publish vaccination figures. As of April 28, just 2,600 people had received shots. Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called the figure "shamefully low" on April 29 and urged all members of his government to get their shots within a week. Acting Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan and Acting Minister of Health Anahit Avanesyan both publicly received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine on April 28 to allay qualms about the shot. The next day Avanesyan said that she was feeling good and hoped her example would be contagious. Health Minister Anahit Avanesyan announced on April 14 that the government had negotiated to receive 1 million Sputnik V doses from Russia, Interfax reported. She did not say when they would arrive, though she said she hopes to vaccinate 20 percent of the population by the end of the year. 100,000 doses of Sinovac are on their way from China, state media reported on April 30. It was not immediately clear if they were approved for use in Armenia.

AZERBAIJAN

Approved: Sinovac, Sputnik V and AstraZeneca

Population: 10 million

Azerbaijan began its vaccination campaign on January 18 with Beijing-based Sinovac's CoronaVac, for which it has contracted 4 million doses. It has also been promised 506,400 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Covax; the first batch of 84,000 were delivered on April 4, the Health Ministry said. As of April 30, 1.49 million doses have been administered and 522,000 people have been fully inoculated. China has donated another 150,000 shots, Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry announced on April 27 in a press release that stressed the doses were free, but did not say who made them.

A nurse in Baku was arrested for falsely registering a patient as vaccinated, Turan.az reported on April 24. Twelve doctors around the country were fired for issuing fake vaccination certificates, Turan reported on April 9.

Azerbaijan will begin distributing the AstraZeneca vaccine on May 3 to people over age 60, state media reported on April 30. The country has received 84,000 doses through the COVAX program.

President Ilham Aliyev has several times condemned what he calls developed countries' "unequal and unfair distribution" of vaccines.

GEORGIA

Approved: AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinopharm

Population: 3.7 million

As of April 30, 45,000 shots had been administered and 4,400 people fully vaccinated. Georgia began its vaccine campaign on March 15 with 43,200 doses of AstraZeneca sourced through Covax. Another 29,250 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, also through Covax, arrived on March 25. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said he is negotiating with Pfizer for 1 million doses, Interpress reported on April 27. Georgia began allowing people over the age of 18 to receive the Sinopharm vaccine on April 27, RFE/RL reported. The country received 100,000 doses in early April. "The level of safety and effectiveness of this vaccine is very high," Chinese Ambassador Li Yang told an April 5 press conference. In addition, 100,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine arrived on April 30. Li had said these would be a gift. Georgia is considering cancelling curfew for the vaccinated to encourage uptake, RFE/RL reported on April 28. The first 6,500 doses of Sputnik V arrived in the Russian protectorate of Abkhazia on April 30, Ekho Kavkaza reported. Vaccination will begin after the May 1-7 holidays. Vaccine reluctance is widespread, especially after a nurse died shortly after she received her first jab on television on March 18. Georgians were broadly hesitant even before the tragedy. One recent survey conducted prior to the nurse's death showed that over a half of Georgians were reluctant to get the jab

KAZAKHSTAN

Approved: Sputnik V, QazVac

Population: 19 million

The general population became eligible for vaccination on April 1. Our Kazakhstan correspondent describes the waiting, the bureaucracy, and the anticlimax of getting his Sputnik V jab in Almaty. Over 1 million people have received a first dose as of April 29 and about 1.2 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

Kazakhstan introduced a domestically produced vaccine, QazVac, on April 26. Health Minister Alexei Tsoi received the shot on live television (The next day he said his arm was a little sore overnight, but that he otherwise felt fine.). By the end of the year, the country should be able to produce 500,000 doses per month, Deputy Prime Minister Yeraly Tugzhanov said on April 22. QazVac can be stored in a regular refrigerator and requires two doses three weeks apart. The results of third-stage clinical trials have not yet been released, but the government's website says "its complete safety has been proven, the vaccine forms a strong immunity against coronavirus infection." President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said on April 23 that production would be increased until it is available for every Kazakh citizen.

Kazakhstan is working on four other vaccines against coronavirus, state media reported on April 30

Police are investigating media reports that a vaccine passport can be purchased in Almaty for 15,000 tenge (about $35). Oil workers in Aktobe region will be offered the Sinopharm vaccine starting on April 30, local health officials said. The doses are being produced in Saudi Arabia and will be named Hayat-Vax, TengriNews reported on April 27. Medical students have complained their university is forcing them to be vaccinated, TengriNews reported on April 19. Government-run broadcaster Khabar on April 13 claimed that 90 percent of Kazakh oil workers are refusing their jabs. The allegation is that laborers are reluctant to forgo the quarantine bonuses they have been receiving since the coronavirus pandemic arrived in Kazakhstan. State media on April 20 reported that more than 4,000 oil workers at the giant Tengiz field have received Sputnik V. The regional health department stressed that the vaccine campaign is not compulsory. President Tokayev received the Sputnik V vaccine manufactured in Karaganda on April 6, his spokesperson said. Tokayev had earlier pledged to wait for the domestic vaccine, prompting his spokesman to clarify that he will receive that one, too, when it is ready.

KYRGYZSTAN

Using: Sinopharm, Sputnik V

Population: 6.5 million

Kyrgyzstan began its vaccination campaign on March 29 with 150,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China. Initial interest has been low. Just over 13,000 people had received shots by April 23.

Enthusiasm picked up when the Russian Sputnik V jab became available on April 23 to people age 65 and older. A batch of 20,000 doses arrived on April 22.

Over 27,000 people had received shots as of April 28; of those, 858 had received both doses.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is expected in May. First Deputy Prime Minister Artem Novikov told parliament on April 28 that 40,000 doses of Sputnik V will also arrive in May, AKIpress reported. The country hopes to vaccinate at-risk populations by the autumn, he said.

An online (and thus not representative) poll of 3,100 Kyrgyzstanis conducted by the 24.kg news agency found 75 percent would accept the Sputnik V jab, 5 percent the AstraZeneca shot when it becomes available, and only 3 percent would consent to taking the Sinopharm vaccine, which has been available since March. 17 percent said they would not be vaccinated, the website reported on April 26.

Kyrgyzstan's president alarmed health specialists by recommending coronavirus patients consume a brew made with a poison root. In a bid to quell the outcry over those remarks, the country's health minister, Alymkadyr Beishenaliyev, gathered journalists for a press conference on April 16 and drank the concoction in front of them. The president's Facebook posts about the root were taken down that weekend; Facebook says it deleted the posts for spreading misinformation whereas the president's office said he had deleted the posts himself. Within days, several people were admitted to hospital for poisoning.

A survey by the Health Ministry with the support of the WHO found 55 percent of the population is willing to be vaccinated, Knews reported on April 6. The survey of 1,000 people found 18 percent reported having used antibiotics to prevent or treat coronavirus. Antibiotics do not work against viruses and misuse is dangerous.

TAJIKISTAN

Approved: AstraZeneca

Population: 9.3 million

Prime Minister Kohir Rasulzoda, during a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Kazan on April 29, asked for help procuring Russian shots, saying that Tajiks trust them more than what is currently available.

Vaccinations began on March 22 with 192,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine made in India, known as Covishield, received through the Covax program. Tajikistan expects to receive about 20 percent of the doses it needs through COVAX and will need to purchase the rest. "Negotiations are currently underway with China and Russia and I am confident that vaccines will be imported from these countries in the near future," Ozodi on April 18 quoted a Health Ministry official as saying.

The government does not regularly publish figures on the number of vaccinated people.

The president on April 9 again insisted his country has registered no cases since early January and praised his decision to abandon quarantine last year, Ozodi reported, adding that many countries (he did not specify which) were studying Tajikistan's experience fighting the virus.

TURKMENISTAN

Approved: Sputnik V and EpiVacCorona

Population: 5-6 million

Government officials still insist no cases of COVID-19 have appeared in Turkmenistan, despite ample evidence to the contrary. State media rarely mention the pandemic, vaccinations, or any facet of the crisis. The government is currently vaccinating teachers with the Chinese-made Sinopharm shot, RFE/RL's Turkmen service reported on April 7. Medical workers and other first responders were vaccinated earlier. China claimed it had delivered a batch of the China-made Sinopharm vaccine on March 6. There is no indication the state has approved its use. RFE/RL has reported that the Russian-made Sputnik V shot is available for purchase; a full regimen costs approximately $285 at the official exchange rate. Russian officials said Turkmenistan became the first country in Central Asia to approve the Sputnik V vaccine, on January 18. Later that month, Ashgabat approved use of EpiVacCorona, also produced by Russia.

UZBEKISTAN

Administering: AstraZeneca, Anhui Zhifei Longcom (China), Sputnik V

Population: 33 million

The Health Ministry said that over 500,000 does of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered since April 1. Uzbekistan has received 100,000 doses of Sputnik V as of April 27, the government said. Distribution to people over age 65 began on April 28. Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov asked his Russian counterpart to send more Sputnik V vaccines, Kun.uz reported on April 29. Uzbekistan is the only country in the region to extensively cooperate with China, conducting third-phase trials of the Anhui Zhifei Longcom jab over the winter. One million doses reportedly arrived in Tashkent on March 27 and another one million on April 27. First Deputy Minister of Innovative Development Shahlo Turdikulova has said that she and her family were vaccinated with ZF-UZ-VAC 2001, which requires three shots over 28 days. On April 19, scientists announced the vaccine is effective against variants. 263,000 have received a dose of the three-dose ZF-UZ-VAC 2001 so far, or 46 percent of all those who have been inoculated. Teachers in Tashkent began receiving this shot on April 27, Radio Ozodlik reported. A survey conducted in late March on the Telegram instant messaging app found 44 percent of respondents would refuse vaccination.

Healthcare workers have told Radio Ozodlik that they are being coerced into receiving the vaccine. The government says the shot is voluntary.

For several months during the initial outbreak, we chronicled daily news from across our coverage region. See our previous coronavirus dashboards here.

The archived April 2021 vaccine dashboard is here.

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