Ukraine, the large country in Eastern Europe, has agreed to enhance the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses with U.S. drug maker Novavax to 15 million, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said on Monday.
The first batches of the vaccine are hopefully to reach in Ukraine starting July, the Health Minister said on Facebook.
Ukraine lags behind most European countries in securing COVID-19 vaccines and has yet to start mass vaccinations. "We have been confirmed (by manufacturer India's Serum Institute) that it is possible to supply additional 5 million doses of the vaccine... The total amount of Novavax vaccines that we expect in Ukraine is 15 million," Stepanov said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said this month Ukraine had secured 12 million coronavirus vaccine doses developed by AstraZeneca and Novavax from the Serum Institute. Stepanov, who visited India this weekend, said on Sunday that the first batch of 500,000 doses AstraZeneca vaccine was on its way to Ukraine. Health ministry officials say the doses will arrive "any day now" but have given no exact date.
Ukraine, which has registered more than 1.3 million coronavirus cases and 25,156 deaths, has already agreed to buy some vaccines from China and expects to get at least 8 million doses under the global COVAX programme for poorer countries. Stepanov said last week Kyiv's coronavirus vaccine purchases were being hampered by "dirty information attacks" that have triggered a corruption investigation against his ministry.
He denied wrongdoing after the anti-corruption agency NABU launched an inquiry this month into the procurement of China's Sinovac vaccines through an intermediary importer, Lekhim.