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28 May 2021, 11:34

Lukashenko: Belarus, Russia will help westerners, Ukrainians with COVID-19 vaccines

MINSK, 28 May (BelTA) – There is an agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin to help residents of the West and Ukraine to get COVID-19 vaccines, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with heads of the delegations to the CIS Heads of Government Council session on 28 May, BelTA has learned.

The head of state informed that assistance to citizens of Western states was discussed at the recent meeting with the Russian president. “Although their governments are behaving inappropriately towards Belarus, you see the huge demand for Sputnik V vaccines in Western countries, and a lot of people are trying to get here in every possible way,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “People are asking for help. We agreed with the Russian president that Belarus will open several border checkpoints and set up tents there, if necessary. We have enough of these checkpoints to receive people coming from the territory of Poland, Lithuania and other states, especially Ukraine. These are our people, we speak the same language. We need to help them get vaccinated. We are now working on this issue, given that we have no frenzy regarding the pandemic itself and the vaccination campaign,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

According to the president, the immunization campaign in Belarus is running smoothly and as planned. “The main thing for us now is to protect the elderly and other vulnerable groups. We are encouraging them to do this, but we do not insist. There is no compulsory vaccination and will not be. We need to help our neighbors, especially Ukrainians. You see what is happening there,” the Belarusian leader said.

He noted that the pandemic affected not only economic ties, but also social and humanitarian contacts: “They also need to be restored. First of all, this pertains to human contacts, culture, science, education, sports, tourism. “I never thought that this situation - the situation itself, not only the disease - would turn the whole world upside down. However, having joined forces, we have shown that we can do it [successfully overcome challenges]. Russia has demonstrated that it is a true leader,” the president said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked the Russian authorities for helping Belarus and other countries with the vaccine: “You are not hiding this vaccine from anyone. There are already four vaccines. Maybe you will develop a few more, given that the coronavirus mutates, new variants appear. Let's hope that our vaccines can successfully work against all these variants. I want to express my special gratitude to you: you did not just sell us the vaccine - you shared your technology, now we produce half a million vaccines a month.”

The president informed the meeting participants that Belarus had already developed its own vaccine in a laboratory setting. “We are in no hurry to even test it today because we have enough vaccines thanks to supplies from Russia and our own vaccine production based on the Russian technology. We want to see what will happen to the coronavirus next year, as it will not go anywhere. We want our vaccine to target the coronavirus variant that will be there next year. If we succeed, we will consider it our common vaccine. We will do the same thing as Russia did,” the Belarusian leader said.

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