Ukraine should receive the first batch of coronavirus vaccine in February, not March, as some media outlets report, says Health Minister Maksym Stepanov.
"I have repeatedly said and insisted that, according to the agreements we've signed, the first batch of vaccines will arrive in February this year," Stepanov has told Ukraine 24 TV.
"I can't comment on where the information comes from about the alleged March supply. The supplies will start in February, while in March and April the number of vaccines will increase," the minister said.
Read alsoHealth Ministry to strike new deals soon for supply of COVID-19 vaccine – StepanovStepanov recalled that the vaccination plan approved by the Ministry of Health provides for five stages; it will be implemented until the end of 2021 and at the beginning of 2022.
Vaccines for Ukraine: Background
In March, the first batch with 8 million doses of the vaccine is expected to be shipped to Ukraine under the COVAX Facility. These doses are enough to vaccinate 4 million people as two jabs per person are required. Medics, senior citizens, and seriously ill patients will get vaccinated first.
On December 24, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said that his ministry was working out a plan to increase the vaccine quota as part of the COVAX global initiative from 8 million to 16 million doses.
On December 22, Ukraine's Health Ministry approved a plan for vaccination of the population against COVID-19. The goal of this plan is to vaccinate at least 50% of the population of Ukraine (20 million people) in 2021-2022.
On December 30, the Ukrainian Health Ministry signed a contract for the supply of China's Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccine to Ukraine. The purchase provides for 1,913,316 doses at UAH 504 (US$18) per dose. China plans to obtain permission to use the vaccine inside the country and abroad in January next year, and the vaccine will also be submitted for retraining to the World Health Organization (WHO) in February 2021.
The contract for supplies to the territory of Ukraine has been signed with Lekhim JSC, which, according to official confirmations from Sinovac Biotech, is the only authorized representative of the vaccine manufacturer in Ukraine.
Under the terms of the contract, the first batch of 700,000 doses will be delivered to Ukraine within 30 days after official registration in China, or by one of the competent authorities of the United States, Great Britain, the Swiss Confederation, Japan, Australia, Canada, Israel, India, Mexico, Brazil, or under a centralized procedure by the competent authority of the European Union.
On January 6, some 13 countries of the European Union called on the European Commission to provide access to COVID-19 vaccines for the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, including Ukraine.