BUCHAREST- Romania will donate 1.1 million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Algeria and Libya, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

Romania is the European Union's second-least vaccinated country after Bulgaria, with roughly 42% of the population fully inoculated, reflecting mistrust in state institutions and poor vaccine education.

With supplies far outstripping demand for COVID-19 shots, the Bucharest government has sold or donated excess shots before their expiry date.

Valeriu Gheorghita, a doctor in charge of coordinating Romania's vaccination campaign said earlier this month that some 900,000 expired AstraZeneca doses were set to be destroyed.

The global project to share COVID-19 vaccines is struggling to place more than 300 million doses, underlining that the problem with vaccinating the world is now more about demand than supply. 

Romania reported 11,477 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, far off record highs registered at the start of this month at the peak of the Omicron coronavirus variant wave. Although Romania has shortened quarantine periods, most restrictions to combat COVID contagion remain in place.

At the height of the fourth wave in late October and November, Romania topped global lists of new coronavirus deaths per million. The pandemic has killed just under 63,000 people in the country of 20 million people.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie Editing by Mark Heinrich) ((luiza.ilie@thomsonreuters.com; +4021 527 0312; https://www.reuters.com/journalists/luiza-ilie))