WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland will send 650,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Ukraine on Tuesday, the minister in charge of the Polish vaccination drive told state news agency PAP.
One of Europe’s poorest countries, Ukraine has lagged behind other nations on the continent in its vaccination programme against COVID-19, and made public appeals for help.
Polish media say the country has a surplus of vaccines after having fully inoculating about 57% of the adult population, according to figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control Vaccine Tracker. Demand for the shot has slackened considerably from record levels in June.
Australia said on Sunday it had purchased about 1 million doses of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine from Poland to supplement its inoculation drive in Sydney and its home state amid record new infections.
Polish vaccinations chief Michal Dworczyk told PAP that Poland had also sent 2.4 million Pfizer vaccines to Spain and 600.000 to Portugal, as well as 1 million doses of Moderna to Norway.
The World Health Organization has urged affluent developed countries where most people have already been vaccinated to denote surplus shots to poorer countries, especially in Africa, where many vulnerable people still await a first dose and there is a lack of face masks and other personal protective equipment.
The head of Poland’s Government Agency for Strategic Reserves (RARS), Michal Kuczmierowski, declined to disclose the price of vaccines provided to other countries.
“We abide by this rule not to lose and not to make money. The countries cover the costs of transport that we organize,” he was quoted by PAP as saying.
Poland’s health ministry and RARS did not immediately reply to Reuters’ requests for comment, and Dworczyk was not immediately available to comment.
(Reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Alicja Ptak and Alan Charlish in Warsaw, Matthias Williams in Kyiv; Editing by Mark Heinrich)