Belarus Begins Mass COVID-19 Vaccination With Russian Sputnik V

Belarus has begun its coronavirus vaccination campaign on Tuesday, as the first batch of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V has arrived in the country, the press service of the Healthcare Ministry reports in its Telegram channel.

Belarus’ Healthcare Minister Dmitry Pinevich said: “Today we will kick off a new stage – mass vaccination against COVID-19. The first to be vaccinated will be healthcare workers, teachers and specialists who, due to their profession, have to contact a lot with people. Vaccination will be voluntary.”

According to Pinevich, Belarus has created a vaccine storage system, which allows to keep the cold chain, and purchased special medical freezer equipment to transport the vaccine. He also thanked Russia “for active interaction and strategic cooperation in resolving this issue.”

Russian Healthcare Minister Mikhail Murashko noted that “prompt access of Belarus to the Russian vaccine was made possible thanks to the effective work of the Belarusian regulatory system.” “The protocol of the clinical trial conducted in the country e made it possible to quickly confirm the validity of the extensive Russian data on the Sputnik V clinical trial for residents of Belarus,” he added.

Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), said that Belarus became the first foreign country to officially register the vaccine.

“Today, Belarus has become the first country to start mass vaccination with Sputnik V. The next stage of cooperation between the RDIF and partners will be the production of the ready-to-use vaccine in Belarus, which will significantly simplify logistics, accelerate the pace of vaccination and prevent the spread of the disease,” he said.

It should be noted that vaccination in Belarus began a little earlier than planned. Earlier, Healthcare Minister Dmitry Pinevich announced that vaccinations would begin in January. As for the production of the Russian vaccine in Belarus, it is planned to start it in the second quarter of 2021. For these purposes, two sites of Belmedpreparatov in Minsk and the Vitebsk enterprise BelVitunipharm will be used.