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COVID-19 crisis: Ukraine blames 'anti-vax hysteria' for slow jab rollout

Ukraine received 500,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine last month, marketed under the name Covishield and produced in India. 

Published: 09th March 2021 08:29 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th March 2021 08:29 PM   |  A+A-

A medic prepares a dose of COVID vaccine in a syringe during a vaccination drive at Hindu Rao Hospital in New Delhi

For representational purpose. (File| PTI)

By AFP

KIEV: Ukraine's health minister said on Tuesday "anti-vax hysteria" was behind a sluggish mass coronavirus inoculation campaign, and urged more medical workers to get the jab. 

The ex-Soviet nation of 40 million people launched its drive late last month, later than most European countries. 

Maksym Stepanov said only 19,000 people -- mostly medical workers -- have received the jab over the first two weeks of the campaign. 

"I am not satisfied with these figures," the minister told reporters, saying he had expected that 10,000 people would be getting vaccinated per day by the end of last week. 

Ukraine received 500,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine last month, marketed under the name Covishield and produced in India. 

But many Ukrainians, including the medical workers who are first in line to receive the vaccine, are sceptical of Covishield, which has been criticised on social media for being produced in India rather than the West. 

"I urge doctors not to delay vaccination and to protect themselves," Stepanov said, adding that it was "a matter of national security". 

He denounced "an anti-vaccine campaign" disseminating "false information" about the only vaccine available so far in the country that he said had fostered "anti-vax hysteria". 

Stepanov claimed the campaign may have been sponsored by promoters of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine. 

The accusation came a day after Washington said Russian intelligence was spearheading a disinformation campaign against US-made coronavirus vaccines to boost its homegrown jab, a claim the Kremlin on Tuesday dismissed as "absurd and groundless". 

Ukraine has banned coronavirus vaccines produced in bitter rival Russia, denouncing its Sputnik V shot as a geopolitical tool. 

Kiev has been fighting separatists backed by Russia in its Donetsk and Lugansk regions since 2014 following Moscow's annexation of the Crimean peninsula. 

One of the poorest countries in Europe, Ukraine has an ageing healthcare system and is facing a rise in new coronavirus cases in recent weeks. 

It has so far recorded over 1.4 million infections and more than 27,000 deaths from the virus



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