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Officials Reveal Results of Month-Long Covid-19 Vaccination Campaign in Azerbaijan

By Timucin Turksoy February 26, 2021

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Director of Azerbaijan's Management Union of Medical Territorial Units (TABIB), Ramin Bayramli receives the first dose of Chinese Covid-19 vaccine CoronaVac, January 18, 2021, Baku, Azerbaijan / Tofik Babayev / Xinhua

Over 200,000 people or 2 percent of Azerbaijan's population of 10 million have received the Covid-19 vaccine during a month-long vaccination campaign, which began in mid-January.

Azerbaijan's Ministry of Health announced that the inoculation of the country’s population would continue in stages in line with the Vaccination Strategy against COVID-19 in the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2021-2022. Currently, the citizens aged 50 and older are being vaccinated as part of the third stage of the mass immunization campaign that began on January 18. The previous stages covered the immunization of healthcare workers, the staff involved in anti-epidemic measures by law enforcement agencies, and the citizens aged 65 and older.

The inoculation in Azerbaijan is voluntary and funded by the government. The process includes two doses in order to complete the immunization and receive a vaccination passport. The state-run Mandatory Health Insurance Company launched an online platform for Covid-19 vaccine registration. The electronic service automatically sets the date for the second vaccine shot 28 days after the inoculation with the first dose.

“I am told every day that sometimes 15-20 thousand people are vaccinated per day. We will use all opportunities in this regard. Appropriate financial resources have been allocated for this purpose. We will just wait for the vaccines to come from the manufacturers,” Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said.

Azerbaijan placed an order for 4 million doses of the CoronaVAC vaccine manufactured by the Chinese SinoVac Company. Two million people or one-fifth of the country’s total population are expected to get two doses each to complete their vaccination. SinoVac agreed to deliver vaccines to Azerbaijan in stages. Under the agreement signed between Baku and Ankara, the vaccines go through laboratory inspections in Turkey before arriving in Azerbaijan.

Before starting the vaccination, Azerbaijan also joined COVAX, a campaign co-led by the vaccine alliance Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and WHO. The campaign aims to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccines and to ensure that every country in the world has fair and easy access to immunization. Two million doses of AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna vaccines for one million people or 10 percent of the population will be delivered to Azerbaijan within the multilateral COVAX platform by April. The country's government may simultaneously activate the option for getting additional 2 million doses.

Officials at the Management Union of Medical Territorial Units (TABIB) announced that the late-stage trials revealed the CoronaVAC vaccine to be 92 percent effective. According to TABIB, this vaccine injects inactivated viruses that have been cultivated artificially in a microbiological culture and then killed to destroy disease producing capacity.

Meanwhile, the government of Azerbaijan sanctioned the human trials of a COVID-19 vaccine combining a British jab from AstraZeneca and Oxford University with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Both vaccines are injected in two doses, an initial shot, and a booster, and contain harmless adenoviruses as vehicles, or vectors, to pump genetic instructions into the body to trigger cells to start generating antibodies.

The first SARS-CoV-2 or Covid-19 infection was detected in Azerbaijan in February 2020. Since then, 233,989 people have been infected with Covid-19 in the country. The death toll from the virus and the number of active Covid-19 patients stood at 3,213 and 2,297 respectively as of February 26. Around 2.6 million Covid-19 tests have been conducted in the country to date.