Lagging Rest of Europe, Ukraine Finally Starts Virus Jabs

Ukraine, the biggest European country yet to start vaccinations against the coronavirus, administered its first shot on Wednesday.

Yevhen Horenko, an emergency doctor in Cherkasy in central Ukraine, received an AstraZeneca vaccine, along with nine other people, according to the Health Ministry. The government plans to inoculate about 370,000 people, mainly doctors and nurses, in the first round of immunization.

The ex-Soviet republic of about 40 million people ranks alongside Moldova and Kosovo in its lateness in rolling out the jabs. Vaccine purchases were complicated by government infighting and corruption allegations, as well as public distrust toward shots produced by Russian and Chinese companies.

The first batch of about 500,000 AstraZeneca vaccines made in India arrived this week. The government expects 6.2 million doses by mid-year.

Ukraine has reserved about 22 million doses of vaccine and is in talks to secure more to cover half of the population by early 2022, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said this month.

Covid-19 has infected 1.3 million people in Ukraine, killing more than 25,400, according to government data. A recent outbreak in the country’s western regions again sparked stricter lockdowns.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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