Q-n about the meeting
Ambassador Kelly Degnan: This was a very important meeting with Minister Tikaradze and First Deputy Minister Gabunia. We are all very concerned about the very high rates of COVID here in Georgia. And of course, I’m watching carefully to see what can be done to bring those case levels down, but more importantly, to bring the vaccination rate up here. I arrived two years ago when COVID was just being understood, and we have learned so much over the past two years. The main thing we’ve learned is that this vaccine will save lives. It is the only way really to protect your loved ones against this virus. Many people in Georgia have had COVID or have known people who’ve been seriously ill, hospitalized, or even died from COVID. I think that over 10,000 Georgians have now died from COVID. This is a serious disease, but through science we have the answer, and that is the vaccine.
We discussed today with the Minister different approaches to encouraging people to take COVID seriously and to get vaccinated, get their loved ones vaccinated, protect their communities, so that we can all go back to enjoying life together, whether it’s in museums or theaters or at the mall or restaurants. We can’t do that until we have a much higher level of vaccination here in Georgia. It was also very useful in talking about ways the United States government can continue to support Georgia’s efforts to respond to this pandemic. We’ve been working with the Ministry of Health and with the Georgian government and the Georgian people, the Georgian Red Cross for two years to try and help combat this pandemic. And of course we stand ready to help in any way we can. I think in particular, we can help Georgians get accurate information about why this vaccine is safe and important for them and for their loved ones. So again, it was my pleasure to come and talk to the Minister on such an important issue. I hope that we can be helpful as Georgia responds to this very serious pandemic. Thank you.
Q-n about green pass and its effectiveness
Ambassador Kelly Degnan: The green pass initiative has been very successful in many countries in the United States, different parts of the United States in France and Ukraine in Romania. It has shown that it’s the kind of incentive that will help people understand why getting vaccinated allows us to return to a certain amount of normal daily life. It’s very good for restoring our economies because it allows businesses to function. Again, we can go to hotels, we can go to restaurants and to stores. So, the green pass can really play a very important role, and it has proven to be very effective in other countries. I hope it will in Georgia as well. Thank you.