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Azerbaijan leads South Caucasus in COVID-19 vaccinations

11 March 2021
Photo: AZERTAG/Tofig Babayev.

Azerbaijan was the first country in the South Caucasus to start vaccinating its population and is planning to provide vaccines for at least 20% of its population in 2021. It has already managed to vaccinate over 400,000 people.

Vaccinations against COVID-19 in Azerbaijan began on 18 January 2021, the vaccine used so far is CoronaVac, produced by the Chinese owned medical company Sinovac.  

While medical workers were the first to receive the jab, Azerbaijan has already moved on to vaccinating the general population, with 400,000 vaccinated so far according to the authorities. 

Azerbaijan has ordered four million doses of the CoronaVac vaccine and has announced that they expect to purchase an additional 2 million doses in the near future. 

Back in January Soltan Mammadov, a member of the Health Committee of the Azerbaijani parliament told APA that among different vaccines CoronaVac is the simplest to store, and that it has an effectiveness of roughly 92%.

Tests carried out in Brazil, Turkey, and Indonesia have shown a lesser effectiveness rate for Coronavac than the one claimed by Mammadov, preventing symptomatic infections at  50.4%, 83.5%, and 65.3%, respectively. However, even in Brazil, the vaccine was shown to be 78% effective at preventing mild cases, and 100% effective at preventing serious cases of the virus. 

On 11 of March, Azerbaijan’s Prime Minister Ali Asadov signed agreements on the import of 300,000 doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine and 432,000 doses of the AztraZeneca vaccine. The vaccines are scheduled to arrive in the country within 180 days.  

Unless additional doses are purchased, Azerbaijan is slated to buy a total of 4,732,000 dosages in total in 2021— enough for a little over 20% of its population of 10 million.

Other countries in the region lag behind

Armenia has started vaccinating health workers earlier this month after Russia donated 2,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine to the country. Armenia’s Ministry announced that they plan to have 3% of the population vaccinated before the end of March.

Through advance payments to international vaccine-sharing mechanism COVAX, Armenia has also purchased enough doses for 300,000 people (10% of the population), of these, 125,000 are slated to be delivered before the end of May.  

Georgia has not yet begun vaccinating its population, but health authorities expect to receive the country’s first vaccines via COVAX on 13 March. Georgia has paid $4.5 million into the vaccine sharing mechanism and is expected to receive enough doses for 700,000 people. 

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