What vaccine will Georgia get and when? What's known so far
Georgia is likely to get access to two vaccines against the coronavirus – the British AstraZeneca and the American Pfizer. Presumably, vaccinations will begin in early spring, and mass vaccinations will take place in summer or autumn.
The first reports of the start of vaccination in Georgia began at the end of 2020, but there is still no exact answer of which vaccine will be used and when.
Moreover, the government and leading specialists in infectious diseases are spreading conflicting information that not only creates confusion, but also increases the already large distrust of the population in vaccination.
From the beginning of the pandemic to January 14, 244,612 cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed in Georgia. Of these, 2,867 died, 228,359 recovered. Currently 13,360 people are infected.
Per the comments of state officials, it seems most likely that Georgia will be vaccinated with the Oxford vaccine AstraZeneca. But a concrete decision on this matter has not yet been made.
The Georgian Ministry of Health says the country will also receive some of the Pfizer vaccine. Health Minister Yekaterina Tikaradze said that supplies of this vaccine to Georgia for immunization of medical personnel have already been confirmed.
According to preliminary information, at the first stage, Georgia will receive about 200,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine.
“At this stage we are talking about the Pfizer vaccine, which does not mean that other vaccines will not be added in the near future. In particular, we expect our citizens to have access to AstraZeneca,” Tikaradze said.
Health Minister Tikaradze denied reports that Georgia is considering the purchase of the Chinese vaccine: “There is not enough information about the Chinese vaccine and it is difficult to talk about guarantees. Therefore, the Ministry of Health is definitely not considering this vaccine”.
The Chinese vaccine was discussed after the director of the Center for Infectious Diseases, AIDS and Clinical Immunology Tengiz Tsertsvadze told the Formula TV channel that Georgia is planning to purchase two vaccines – the British AstraZeneca and a Chinese vaccine.
“There are five vaccines in China, and we are talking about one of them. And I want to say that the rating of the Chinese vaccine in the world is quite high,” Tsertsvadze said at the time.
Akaki Zoidze, a health expert who is part of the vaccination working group, also spoke about his preference for the AstraZeneca vaccine. According to him, Georgia is preparing to import 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca in early spring.
How vaccines will be delivered
Pfizer or Moderna vaccines pose significant logistical challenges. For their transportation and storage, special expensive refrigerators are required, which provide temperatures down to -80⁰.
There are few such refrigerators in Georgia. But still, according to Paata Imnadze, deputy head of the Center for Disease Control, the country has the capacity to receive the first 200,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
In addition, Tegeta Motors announced that it is ready to help Georgia with the delivery of the Pfizer vaccine and will provide quality transport with refrigerated trucks.
Who will be vaccinated first?
The health minister says Georgia is doing the same as most countries in the world – following the priorities proposed by the World Health Organization.
First of all, doctors and other medical personnel will be vaccinated, then vulnerable groups will follow, primarily people with chronic diseases and pensioners.
When will the vaccination take place?
The Ministry of Health has not named a specific date of when the first vaccination will be given in Georgia.
The deputy head of the Center for Disease Control Paata Imnadze said that mass vaccination will take place in summer or early autumn.