Today Portugal has delivered the first shipment of 400,140 doses of BioNTech–Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to Armenia. Thanks to the joint work of the EU, Poland and Portugal, the EU was able to respond to a request from Armenia for COVID-19 vaccines and help the country continue tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
The delivery is part of a Team Europe Initiative for the Eastern Partnership, setting up an innovative EU-financed vaccine-sharing programme launched in December 2021, coordinated by Poland and to which Portugal promptly joined.
Today’s delivery is the first batch of vaccines delivered to Armenia under the new EU funded scheme, with a second one arriving in Armenia in April.
Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, said: “I am delighted that this shipment of COVID-19 vaccines has arrived. These vaccines reach Armenia at a critical time and should help in increasing the vaccine uptake in the country. The delivery is an expression of solidarity with Armenia in the common battle against the pandemic and its social and economic consequences. I am grateful to Portugal for their generous commitment and to Poland for their efforts in making this donation a reality.”
Augusto Santos Silva, Minister of State and Foreign Affairs of Portugalstressed that no one is safe until everyone is, Portugal made its primary commitment from the outset to support the international vaccination process as part of our global efforts to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. Joining efforts with Poland to uphold Armenia’s vaccination campaign reflects what Team Europe approach is all about highlighting that we are stronger when we act together.
The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has coordinated this donation and matched Portugal’s commitment with Armenia’s evolving needs. Poland has also overseen the necessary arrangements with the vaccine manufacturer to ensure timely delivery.
“Today, words have turned into deeds and the European vaccine initiative launched in mid-December 2021 towards the Eastern Partnership countries gains measurable importance. The Team Europe initiative, coordinated and supported by Poland, aimed at free, fair and sustainable access to vaccination against COVID-19 in the Eastern Partnership countries, is already active. Portuguese donation to Armenia connects the continent from its western to eastern ends, underling European solidarity in the joint fight against the global pandemic. For Poland, it is another example of implementing the ideas that were at the roots of creation of the Eastern Partnership – cooperation, strengthening and solidarity,” said Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau
“We are happy that the vaccines reached Armenia, grateful to Portugal for their generous commitment and to Poland for their efforts in making this a reality. We continue to fight against COVID-19 together,” said the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Andrea Wiktorin, during the handover of the donation to the RA Ministry of Health.
“We are grateful to our partners for their solidarity in this period with measures to curb the pandemic. Armenia has already used more than 2 million vaccine doses; we have fully vaccinated more than 95,000 people. Armenia is doing everything to ensure the diversity of vaccines, and this donation is another step in ensuring their availability for people,” said Deputy Minister of Health of Armenia Lena Nanushyan.
The European Commission has in late December 2021 signed an agreement worth €35 million with the BGK, Polish Development Bank, to set up an innovative arrangement to support EU Member States in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to the Eastern Partnership countries. The EU contribution is financed from the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument – Global Europe (NDICI – Global Europe) and will run until June 2023 or until the EU contribution is exhausted.
The action complements major efforts by the EU to reduce the COVID-19 health impact by ensuring a rapid and safe deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and fostering structural changes in health systems. At the outset of the pandemic in early 2020, the EU-funded the provision of critical equipment and technical assistance through the World Health Organisation (WHO). Since February 2021, another EU-funded WHO programme supports Eastern Partnership countries with their vaccine absorption capacities by enhancing preparedness and deployment capabilities.
This innovative action is complementary to COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator: a global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
By late February 2022, over 15 million vaccine doses were donated to Eastern Partnership partner countries via the EU Vaccine Sharing mechanism and through COVAX.
With a close to 3.5 billion, Team Europe is one of the lead contributors to COVAX, which remains the key global vehicle to ensure fair and equitable access to these vaccines.