Ukraine to receive first batch of vaccines through COVAX

Ukraine will today receive its first order of COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX. Some 1.7 million vaccines will be shipped to

Photo: European Union

Ukraine will today receive its first order of COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX.

Some 1.7 million vaccines will be shipped to the country under the COVAX program, with 360,000 AstraZeneca and 117,000 Pfizer doses set to arrive today. The incoming batch comes as Ukraine’s infection rate has risen to this week’s rate of over 10,000 new daily cases. Despite access to four government-approved vaccines (AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sinovac and Novavax), fewer than 400,000 Ukrainians have received a dose, while nearly half the population has reported a refusal to be immunized. This hesitancy stems from current misinformation as well as the national memory of forced vaccination policies during the Soviet era.

Expect President Volodymyr Zelensky to pursue an aggressive vaccination information campaign given the country’s supply of perishable shots and low immunization rates. Although Ukraine remains in a state of domestic quarantine, its reported cases have crept up following relaxed movement restrictions and lessened social distancing policies in January. Look for Kyiv to attempt to increase public trust in vaccines as the country’s health system becomes saturated with COVID-19 patients. Despite the pandemic, Zelensky’s approval ratings remain consistent, and thus he is likely to favor mass vaccination over reinforced lockdown measures.

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