BFF-46 Ukraine orders probe into Covid vaccine smuggling claims

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ZCZC

BFF-46

HEALTH-VIRUS-UKRAINE

Ukraine orders probe into Covid vaccine smuggling claims

KIEV, Jan 6, 2021 (BSS/AFP) – Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky
on Wednesday ordered a probe into allegations elected officials had
smuggled coronavirus vaccines into the country to have themselves
inoculated in secret.

The leader’s announcement followed allegations from businessman
Mykhailo Brodsky that some MPs and possibly even Prime Minister Denys
Chmygal had received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a private Kiev
clinic.

“I have ordered the security services to verify without delay the
information about supposed smuggling of coronavirus vaccines,”
Zelensky posted to the Telegram messaging service.

“If someone has really had the idea of importing the vaccine
secretly and against the law to sell it, there should be the most
severe reaction possible,” Zelensky added.

Ukraine has received no vaccine doses so far through official channels.

In a post on his news website Obozrevatel, Brodsky said the vaccine
doses were brought from Israel on a charter flight in late December,
at a cost of 2,500 euros ($3,075) per two-dose regimen.

Chmygal posted to Telegram that he planned to be vaccinated only
after approved shots had arrived in Ukraine and been issued to care
workers and vulnerable people.

One of Europe’s poorest countries, Ukraine said in late December it
would buy almost two million doses of the Chinese-made CoronaVac
vaccine, but has not specified a date when they will be delivered.

Kiev has been criticised for failing to secure supplies of
western-made vaccines like the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shots, seen
as more trustworthy.

Ukraine is also holding out for eight million doses of vaccine via
the World Health Organization’s Covax programme for poorer countries,
set to be delivered in spring.

With a run-down health system, Ukraine had by Wednesday recorded
1.1 million cases of coronavirus and 19,357 deaths in a population of
around 40 million.

BSS/AFP/MRU/2344hrs