Health officials say Romania has contracted 1.3million doses of the Covid-19 AstraZeneca vaccine which will be shipped in February and March as it pushes on with the vaccine rollout.
Andrei Baciu, a state secretary at the health ministry made the announcement Tuesday after the European Union’s medicines regulator recommended authorizing the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for use in the bloc.
The vaccine is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus from chimpanzees.
When the vaccine is injected into a patient, it prompts the immune system to start making antibodies and primes it to attack any coronavirus infection.
Unlike Pfizer’s jab, which has to be kept at an extremely cold temperature (-70C) – the Oxford vaccine can be stored in a normal fridge which makes it much easier to distribute.
The approval means an additional vaccine for Europeans after the Pfizer shot which has been used since the vaccine campaign began in late December.
Separately, he said Pfizer would deliver 2.5 million doses by the end of March.
Pharma company Moderna is slowing down vaccine shipments to Romania in February by 20% due to production problems but will make up the deficit by the end of March with 430,000 doses, the official said.
AstraZeneca is the latest Covid-19 vaccine to arrive in Romania, Andrei Baciu said on Tuesday. The 1.3 million does will come in three shipments he said, with 800,000 arriving this month.
Romania’s free vaccination campaign is now in its second stage targeting the elderly, people with chronic disease and key workers.
Romania is planning to donate 200,000 vaccine doses “in the near future” to neighboring Moldova, an impoverished former Soviet republic which is not a member of the European Union.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has described the unequal access poor countries had to Covid-19 vaccines as a “catastrophic moral failure”
Romania’s ambassador to Moldova Daniel Ionita headed a delegation to Chisinau last week to discuss the vaccines and providing support for the vaccination campaign.
Moldova, which has a population of 3 million has posted about 160,000 Covid-19 cases and 3,446 deaths.
It reported 282 cases on Monday, about a tenth of the number of single-day infections in Romania.