Azerbaijan plans to start COVID-19 vaccination in early 2021 [UPDATE]

19 December 2020 14:00 (UTC+04:00)

By Aisha Jabbarova

President Ilham Aliyev has said that Azerbaijan will start nationwide state-funded and voluntary vaccination against COVID-19 in early 2021.

Aliyev made the remarks while addressing a session of the Council of Heads of State of the Commonwealth of Independent States held in the format of a video conference on December 18.

“There are plans that the vaccination program will begin early next year, will be voluntary and carried out at the expense of the state,” Aliyev said.

There president said that Azerbaijan has held negotiations with leading vaccine manufacturers such as Sputnik V, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Moderna, Pfizer BioNTech and was one of the first countries to join the international COVAX initiative on equitable access of countries to vaccines with the participation of WHO.

“Azerbaijan has always kept this topic in the spotlight as a country chairing the Non-Aligned Movement. We have always said in all international forums that countries that do not have sufficient financial resources should have exactly the same access to vaccines as developed countries so that there is no discrimination in this area. We have also developed a vaccination strategy, which implies a multi-platform approach,” Aliyev said.

Speaking about the measures to fight the pandemic, Aliyev reminded that the government increased the number of laborites by eight times and built 10 new modern hospitals, including modular ones, in a short time in a bid to fight the pandemic. More than 10,000 beds  have been provided for COVID-19 patients.

The president said that the government invited doctors from five countries – Italy, China, Cuba, Russia and Turkey – due to shortage of doctors as no healthcare system was designed for such a high number of patients.

Furthermore, Aliyev reminded that around $2.5 billion was allocated from the state budget to combat the pandemic and to provide financial support to citizens affected by economic consequences of COVID-19. Financial support measures have covered about 5 million citizens of Azerbaijan, which is half of the country’s population.

Aliyev stressed that Azerbaijan has actively advocated and is in favor of broad international cooperation in the fight against the pandemic. It has hosted and initiated a number of pandemic-related international events, among them the Summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States (chaired by Azerbaijan) dedicated to the fight against the pandemic held in April, Non-Aligned Movement Summit in May, the 31st Special Session of the UN General Assembly was held on 3 and 4 December (upon Azerbaijan’s initiative as the chair of Non-Aligned Movement).

In addition, Azerbaijan made a voluntary contribution of $10 million to the World Health Organization and has also provided financial and humanitarian assistance to more than 30 countries due to COVID-19.

Azerbaijan registered its first COVID-19 case in February.

So far, the nation of ten million, has registered 199,127 COVID-19 cases and 2,175 coronavirus-related deaths. Currently, 61,490 people with COVID-19 are under treatment in special hospitals.

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