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Vaccination against COVID-19 – pending issue in Kyrgyzstan

Vaccination against coronavirus has already begun in many countries around the world. Kyrgyzstan is still only planning vaccination and is studying the vaccines, both offered within the COVAX mechanism, and others that are not produced in the states parties to the mechanism. Ainura Akmatova, the head of the Public Health Department of the Ministry of Health of Kyrgyzstan told 24.kg news agency about process of selection of vaccines for Kyrgyzstanis.

— As you know, Kyrgyzstan has joined COVAX — the global mechanism to ensure the availability of vaccines against COVID-19. According to WHO, it has the largest and most diverse vaccine development portfolio to date, with nine vaccines-candidates and nine more vaccines undergoing preliminary trials.

According to preliminary calculations, vaccines sufficient for vaccination of about 20 percent of the total population of the republic will be allocated within the mechanism.

COVAX member countries have received a letter about the possibility of a small «first wave» of Pfizer vaccine supplies (0.25 percent of the population, 16,000 people, or 32,000 doses), if the state meets strict criteria (providing ultra-cold storage conditions and delivery).

The Ministry of Health will continue to consider WHO recommendations on vaccines within the COVAX mechanism; the issue of phased vaccination of risk groups is also discussed. Calculations for the purchase of vaccines and refrigeration equipment have been made.

— How will Kyrgyzstan select vaccines offered through the COVAX mechanism?

— Vaccines are now going through all stages of clinical trials for safety, then they are registered in accordance with established procedures around the world. Only after that Kyrgyzstan will make a decision on their import.

The republic will have to select a vaccine that is suitable for its effectiveness, for meeting the cold requirements.

— The opinion is voiced on social media that we have refused the American vaccine not to spoil relations with Russia, and Kyrgyzstan will choose Sputnik V ...

We haven’t rejected Pfizer vaccine. It is offered to us free of charge as to a low-income country that is a member of the World Health Organization.

Ainura Akmatova

We have made calculations and submitted them to the Ministry of Finance that by the time the vaccine arrives — approximately in June — we must resolve the refrigeration equipment issue. Now we are working on this issue with international organizations, including UNICEF. We are going to see whether we can purchase the necessary equipment, deliver it, and so on.

We do not say that we will not receive the Pfizer vaccine, but will choose the Russian one only. No, we will study all the proposed options.

— Do we have a center that studies information about the proposed vaccines?

— A special group has been created under the Ministry of Health that deals with these issues: vaccination strategy, selection of target groups, monitoring of vaccination in other countries. It includes not only representatives of the Ministry of Health, but also other departments, international organizations. It also includes representatives of the scientific and technical group of experts on immunization of the Ministry of Health of the Kyrgyz Republic. The group studies each vaccine that is to be imported into the republic, where it is developed, whether it has passed all the stages of trials, what it consists of, what is the storage temperature, and so on.

The working group has developed a draft National Plan for Vaccination against COVID-19.

— Some of the vaccines be given to us free of charge within the COVAX mechanism, and will we need to purchase the rest?

— We are now considering this option. Within the mechanism, we will be provided with vaccines, which will be enough for 20 percent of the population. Therefore, we must consider other options of free supplies, for example, from Russia. Their vaccines have also proven themselves.

We must take into account both the logistics and the need for vaccines of the population of the entire globe. If we do not study all possible vaccines, we will not be able to assess the need, understand what equipment is needed, and etc.

— Will the vaccination be free for the population?

It will be free and voluntary for all risk groups within the COVAX mechanism.

Ainura Akmatova

But we are considering other options, in particular, possibility of paid vaccination in private centers.