The first batch of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Ukraine.
“We are urgently unloading the cargo and the vaccine will go to the regions right away so that we can start vaccinating according to the first stage of our vaccination plan,” Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said on his Facebook page.
The vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford and the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca, has been approved by the World Health Organization.
It has also been approved for use in the United Kingdom, the European Union, and India.
Earlier in February, Ukraine’s government banned the registration of vaccines for COVID-19 from Russia even though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has been criticized for his government’s sputtering vaccination plan.
Zelenskiy has said that Ukraine would begin the first phase of the vaccination campaign in February, adding that by early 2022 at least half of the country’s 41 million population will be vaccinated.
Kyiv-Moscow relations have been tense since Russia forcibly seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and threw its support behind pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s east, where the ongoing conflict has claimed more than 13,200 lives.
Ukraine has also agreed to get COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Novavах, and China’s Sinovac Biotech.
As of February 23, the number of registered coronavirus cases in Ukraine was 1,311,844, including 25,309 deaths.