MINSK, 24 January (BelTA) – Belarus has plans to start using a domestic COVID-19 vaccine in mass vaccination programs in 2024, Healthcare Minister Dmitry Pinevich told reporters prior to his meeting with young healthcare professionals in Minsk, BelTA has learned.
“We will receive a pilot batch that will undergo pre-clinical trials and later very strict clinical tests. We plan to register the vaccine at the end of this year,” Dmitry Pinevich said. “We will start using it in mass vaccination programs in 2024. It remains to be seen whether it will be used massively,” he added.
The minister is deeply convinced that the pandemic will not return in its initial form. However, it is important that the domestic vaccine is a kind of platform for creating other inactivated vaccines designed to prevent airborne viral diseases.
“The vaccine production facility will become a launchpad for a much wider range of healthcare products,” Dmitry Pinevich said.
He noted that the composition of vaccines, for example, influenza virus vaccines, is revised before each seasonal increase in infections. Vaccines are adapted to the strains that are most anticipated in the upcoming cold season. “Now H1N1 is circulating, but we don't feel it because the influenza vaccine includes this strain,” the minister said. Those who have got a shot of this vaccine have already developed immunity against this infection.
As for the coronavirus vaccine, there have been talks of including Omicron subvariants such as Centaurus, Kraken, and others into the COVID-19 vaccine. “But the Wuhan strain works quite well as a base. Vaccination will not give you a 100% guarantee that you will not fall sick, but your disease will be much milder,” the minister said.
Thanks to the platform that has been created, changes can be made to the composition of the coronavirus vaccine if necessary, and this will not represent any problem, the minister added.
Dmitry Pinevich noted that the team that is working on the vaccine, has a fairly large proportion of young scientists. “The combination of experience, youth, enthusiasm, innovation is very important in all areas,” he stressed.