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Needling each other: Ukrainian politicians face off over rejection of Russian-made Sputnik V as country’s Covid-19 crisis worsens

Needling each other: Ukrainian politicians face off over rejection of Russian-made Sputnik V as country’s Covid-19 crisis worsens
Parliamentarians and government officials in Kiev have traded blows in a fresh row over the country’s refusal to register a Russian coronavirus vaccine, despite Ukraine facing challenges in accessing UK and US made formulas.

On Saturday, the country’s chief doctor, Viktor Lyashko, denied media reports that Kiev was considering registering Sputnik V, created by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute. In a message on his official Facebook page, he wrote these “rumours… do not correspond to reality” because Ukraine will use only those vaccines against COVID-19 that successfully pass the third phase of clinical research trials.” 

Lyashko’s post was on Sunday slammed by the leader of the Ukrainian parliament’s largest opposition group, Viktor Medvedchuk, who said in a statement that it was a “misunderstanding of medicine” and had “nothing to do with health, nor with the interests of Ukrainian citizens.” 

Also on rt.com Ukrainian pharma company applies to produce Sputnik V jab after emotional FM dubs Russian Covid vaccine 'weapon of hybrid war'

Medvedchuk tore into Lyashko’s argument, insisting that “none of the vaccines have passed the third phase of clinical trials – not for Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca.” He added that he would “like to see a specialist explain this to Mr Lyashko and he, in turn, can convey these facts to President [Volodymyr] Zelensky.”

According to the US National Library of Medicine, which maintains a database of all trials in the country, Moderna’s formula is due to complete its study in 2022, with Pfizer and AstraZeneca finishing PhaseThree tests in 2023.

In December, President Zelensky expressed frustration with Washington’s current ban on exports of its homegrown vaccines, seemingly suggesting that his government would have to consider offers of help from Moscow if it cannot access support from elsewhere. “Of course,” he said, “it is impossible to explain to Ukrainian society why, when America and [the] Europe[an Union] are not giving you vaccines, you shouldn’t take vaccines from Russia.”

There had been hopes that the battle against coronavirus in Ukraine had received a shot in the arm this week, when a Kharkov-based pharmaceutical company applied to the country’s Ministry of Health for registration of Sputnik V. It was reported that, if granted approval, it would take only three to six months for them to begin manufacturing their own vials.

Also on rt.com Ukraine's Zelensky warns he cannot justify rejecting Russia's Sputnik V unless West supplies Kiev with other Covid-19 vaccines

The country received a loan of $300 million from the World Bank in December to support its efforts to get on companies’ order books for their vaccines. However, with global demand vastly outstripping supply, there are no guarantees that any shipments would be received quickly. Ukraine also participates in the COVAX access initiative, and will take delivery of around 8 million doses, free of charge, as soon as Q1 2021. However, given each person requires two doses, the 4 million who will benefit is just a fraction of the 30-35 million that call the country home.

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