Commenting on the allocation by the European Commission of EUR 40 million to the Eastern Partnership countries, including Ukraine, to prepare for vaccination, Shmyhal said that the topic of vaccination against COVID-19 is the most relevant today for Europe and for Ukraine.
"Therefore, it is not surprising that this issue was the first one in our dialogue. Last spring, we agreed with the EU on emergency macro-financial support for Ukraine in the amount of 1.2 billion euros, of which the first half - 600 million euros – has already been received at the end of last year, and we expect the second half this year. So, we have quite a serious resource for the purchase of vaccines and for the creation of the appropriate infrastructure for logistics and storage," he said.
Shmyhal also recalled that during his visit to Brussels, a loan agreement was signed with the European Investment Bank (EIB) for an additional 50 million euros for the purchase of vaccines and equipment, "in particular for the Pfizer vaccine, which really requires complex infrastructure due to its transportation and storage at an extremely low temperature of -80 degrees."
According to Shmyhal, there are three companies in Ukraine "capable of providing such storage conditions, and their capacity is limited to 300,000 doses per week." "According to the Ministry of Health, this should be enough to withstand the cyclical use and import of new batches. But this capacity should, of course, be better developed in the future," he said.
"For all other vaccines, the storage conditions of which are less stringent and should range between -8 degrees and 8 degrees Celsius, the infrastructure is quite extensive," he said. "There is a separate state-owned enterprise with appropriate storage facilities, and there are numerous private companies. In addition, we have upgraded this infrastructure, so we generally feel confident in terms of vaccine storage and logistics," Shmyhal said.
As part of Shmyhal's visit to Brussels and Luxembourg on February 9-12, the Ukrainian government signed a number of documents on cooperation with the European Investment Bank.
In particular, it was agreed with the EIB to allocate EUR 50 million for the purchase of vaccines for the population of Ukraine and modern refrigeration equipment for the network of vaccination centers. Deliveries are expected to take place in the second half of this year.
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