Heated scramble between EU and U.K. over COVID-19 vaccine supplies
EU and WHO European Office to support vaccination in Eastern Europe
The program will cover Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova
The European Bureau of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday announced that it will work with the European Union to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine in six countries in Eastern Europe.
Speaking at the headquarters in Copenhagen, WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said the program, worth about $ 50 million, will cover Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova..
Kluge explained that the program is intended to ensure equal access to vaccines throughout Europe. “Vaccines make it possible to get out of this pandemic faster, but only if we ensure access to them for all countries, regardless of income level,” he stressed..
According to Kluge, the main areas of the program are vaccination preparedness, information campaigns, supplies and training of health workers in these countries. The initiative will complement existing EU vaccine exchange programs and the WHO-backed COVAX fund, created to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.
Kluge noted with cautious optimism that the overall incidence of COVID-19 in all 53 countries of the European region has been declining for four consecutive weeks, and the number of deaths associated with the disease has declined in each of the past two weeks. According to him, the number of hospitalizations also decreased..
However, he warned that the decrease in the total number of cases does not reflect the increase in the incidence of new strains of the virus. “This means that we need to closely monitor the overall distribution trends and avoid hasty decisions,” he stressed..
Kluge added that news about vaccinations in Europe is also mixed. The total number of doses of vaccine administered in the region has exceeded the number of reported cases of COVID-19 – about 41 million doses administered versus 36 million infections.
However, in 29 of the 37 countries currently vaccinating in the European Region, 7.8 million people received the full immunization series, or only 1.5 percent of the total population of these countries..
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