TASHKENT -- The United States donated three million doses of coronavirus vaccines to Uzbekistan on Friday (July 30), its ambassador said, as Washington seeks to boost its relationships with the Central Asian states bordering Afghanistan.
Embassy staff greeted a plane carrying three million doses of the Moderna vaccine at Tashkent International Airport early on Friday morning, US Ambassador Daniel Rosenblum wrote on Twitter.
"A gift from the American people to the people of Uzbekistan through COVAX. We can't beat this virus until all of us are vaccinated!"
Washington is looking to increase its co-operation with the five former Soviet Central Asian republics as it completes a withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Tajikistan, another Central Asian country bordering Afghanistan, already received 1.5 million US-manufactured Moderna doses through the international vaccine distribution system known as COVAX at the beginning of the week.
Officials in the ex-Soviet republic of 9.5 million have declared that they are ready to accept refugees from their war-torn neighbour, although Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin said this week it was too early to make commitments on numbers.
Tajikistan's government made vaccinations for adults mandatory earlier this month.
Uzbekistan, which has a population of 34 million, is considering legislation that will tie vaccination to employment rights.
'Low-quality' Chinese, Russian vaccines
China and Russia, meanwhile, have engaged in what critics call "vaccine diplomacy" -- pledges to donate vaccines to win favour with poorer countries.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called Chinese-made vaccines a "global public good", but international health specialists warn the low quality jabs could be creating more problems as new variants of the disease continue to spread.
At the same time, China has been stonewalling the World Health Organisation (WHO) investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Russian regime also has unleashed a massive propaganda campaign to promote its Sputnik V vaccine, in tandem with campaigns smearing Western-made vaccines.
But rushing to be "first" has come at the expense of quality control, global health analysts say, with several countries raising concerns over the composition of the Russian vaccine.