MINSK, 29 December (BelTA) – Belarus' pharmaceutical company Belmedpreparaty is set to start manufacturing the Russian coronavirus vaccine by the end of February - early March, Belarus' Healthcare Minister Dmitry Pinevich told reporters, BelTA has learned.
“I think this will be the end of February - the beginning of March,” Dmitry Pinevich said answering a question when the vaccine will be localized and rolled out in Belarus. Speaking about the production volume he said that ‘there will be hundreds of thousands'. He added that this Belarus-Russia project benefits both countries in many ways.
“We are working on the production of finished vaccines at our pharmaceutical companies in collaboration with Russian partners. It is no big secret, the vaccine will be made at Belmedpreparaty, our leading enterprise that has the necessary manufacturing capacities, its own science base, as well as a long history of successful cooperation with Russian counterparts,” Dmitry Pinevich said.
Belarus began mass vaccination against COVID-19 with Russia's Sputnik V on 29 December. In line with Belarus' vaccination priority criteria, the first to get the shots will be healthcare professionals, teachers, retail workers and other people who contact with the general public. Vaccinations will be voluntary.
As for healthcare workers, the first to receive the vaccine will be people working on the front line, ambulance staff, contact teams of outpatient clinics. According to the minister, it was not a problem to find those willing to get a shot. As Dmitry Pinevich noted, it makes the most sense to start with outpatient clinics and the ambulance service, where the risks are ‘just as high, and maybe even higher'.
Some 200,000 people are to be vaccinated at the first stage, with 1.2 million people to be vaccinated by the end of the spring. Contracts have been signed for the supply of vaccines for the first stage. In the future, the country's needs will be covered by vaccine supplies and vaccine production at the Belarusian pharmaceutical company.
The minister noted that many vaccine-preventable diseases are now a thing of the past largely due to immunization. Vaccination against coronavirus will be included in the national vaccination calendar; it will be voluntary.
Dmitry Pinevich also added that collaboration with Russia is the most comfortable, as the two countries have the same protocols and approaches to vaccination.
Russian Ambassador to Belarus Dmitry Mezentsev thanked Belarusian epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists for providing their professional opinion on the Sputnik V vaccine.