U.S. donates 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Moldova

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FILE- In this Saturday, Feb.23, 2019 file picture seen through the mesh covering an electoral advertising point of the Socialits’ Party, people walk in Chisinau, Moldova. Moldovan citizens go to the polls Sunday, July 11, 2021 in a key snap parliamentary election that could decide whether the former Soviet republic fully embraces pro-Western reform or prolongs a political impasse with strong Russian influence. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

BUCHAREST (AP) — Moldova is set to receive half a million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the United States to help the small nation combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The first 150,000 doses of J&J are to arrive in Moldova — a country of 3.5 million, Europe’s poorest sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine — on July 12, the U.S. Embassy officials in Moldova said..

Moldovan President Maia Sandu thanked the U.S. for the vaccines and said that they will “help save lives, preserve the health of our citizens and reduce the force of the pandemic.”

“Now, we must mobilize ourselves and, in solidarity, get vaccinated,” Sandu, a former World Bank official, wrote online.

The announcement came days ahead of an early) parliamentary election in Moldova that pits pro-Western reformists against a Russia-friendly bloc of Socialists and Communists, with recent polls giving a lead to the former.

“This donation could not come at a more important time,” the U.S. Embassy in Moldova said in a statement. “The U.S. remains Moldova’s steadfast partner in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and saving Moldovan lives.”

Only 305,000 people in Moldova have been fully inoculated against COVID-19, around just 11% of the population.

The embassy said the U.S. has so far donated more than $4 million (€3.3 million) of COVID-19 related assistance to Moldova, including equipment and staff training. Neighboring Romania has also donated more than 400,000 AstraZeneca vaccines to Moldova.

Moldova has reported more than 257,000 coronavirus infections and 6,207 deaths.

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