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Ukrainian Health Minister Maksym Stepanov has said the government is pursuing a transparent policy on COVID-19 vaccine procurement.

"To have some position, I need to understand what exactly they are investigating. I can only rely on statements voiced by law enforcement. Therefore, it's they who you need to ask. I can only say that we pursue a transparent policy, and any contracts concluded to provide Ukraine with vaccines are drawn absolutely transparently – directly with vaccine manufacturers. Therefore, there is nothing more to add on the purchase of vaccines amid massive global demand. And it is clear the whole world is in a situation where they buy vaccines where there is an opportunity to directly negotiate with manufacturers," he told Ukraina 24 TV channel.

Stepanov says that each vaccine manufacturer has "its own price for its product."

"The only thing I can tell you is that the proposals received by the Health Ministry as a result of negotiations is prices varying from US$5 to US$33.9 per vaccine. So that you understand that there are different prices from different manufacturers," he added.

Read alsoNABU probing possible abuse in procurement of Chinese COVID-19 vaccineBackground

On February 3, 2021, the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) launched a probe into possible abuse in the purchase of a Chinese vaccine against COVID-19 manufactured by Sinovac Biotech.

The case has received wide media coverage, since State Enterprise Medical Procurement of Ukraine had initially entered into negotiations on acquiring a vaccine with an estimated cost of about US$3, and came to the final stage of the process. However, later, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov manually stopped the process and instructed that the authorities start talks on the purchase of a Chinese vaccine from Sinovac Biotech.

The announced purchase price of a single vaccine dose has turned out to be one of the world's highest, while the drug's "overall efficacy" during the final stage of trials in Brazil stood at only 50.38%.

Read alsoUkraine bans use of Russian vaccine against COVID-19A preliminary legal qualification refers to the abuse of power or official position, resulting in grave implications (Part 2 of Article 364 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).