Lukashenko: Belarus' COVID-19 vaccine should be the best
The development of Belarus' own vaccine against COVID-19 is a matter of honor for the Healthcare Ministry and the National Academy of Sciences. More than that, this vaccine should be the best, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Healthcare Minister Dmitry Pinevich on 26 March, BelTA has learned.
“The domestic vaccine is a matter of honor for Gusakov and Pinevich, the Healthcare Ministry and the National Academy of Sciences. It is necessary to develop the very best vaccine within the shortest possible time. It should be the finest, because we can draw on existing expertise and knowledge. It has already been done by Russians, Europeans, Chinese and Indians. Many are already producing these vaccines. We already have some expertise, we are not doing it from scratch,” the head of state said.
According to him, China is ready to support and help Belarus in this matter, if necessary.
“We need to draw on the experience of those who have already done this and develop a good vaccine. If we get a reliable, high-quality vaccine that will be 98-99% effective, this will be a breakthrough. We must strive for it,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.
Aleksandr Lukashenko also asked about the time frame, the status of efforts to develop a domestic vaccine. “We agreed that we would roll out our own vaccine next year. By that time, we will vaccinate almost all of our population, with 60% or more, if needed, at the first stage. However, for this purpose we will use foreign vaccines and the vaccine that we will produce using the Russian technology,” the president said.
He noted that additional vaccine production capacities are being created in Belarus, and it is possible that the vaccine produced in Belarus using the Russian technology will eventually be in demand not only in Belarus, but also in Russia.
The president asked about the course of the immunization program in Belarus. He noted that there is no frenzy about it in the country. “Everything is going on well for us. There are enough vaccines. We vaccinate those who want it. We offer Russian and Chinese vaccines to high-risk groups like doctors, teachers, retail workers. There are other proposals, but we have enough so far,” he said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed his gratitude to President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping for supplying 100,000 doses of vaccines free of charge. China reaffirmed its readiness to sell more vaccines. “They have told us that they will give us as much as needed. As to Russia, we agreed on it with President Putin, too. He suggested back then that we be the first to receive the vaccine. He has delivered on his promise. We keep receiving these vaccines and have started producing these vaccines using their technology,” the head of state said.
He noted that he plans to visit Belmedpreparaty, the pharmaceutical company that bottles Russia's Sputnik V vaccine. “Our today's conversation no way means that we will stop doing it,” he told Dmitry Pinevich.
In general, Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that people should be able to have an easy access to coronavirus vaccines, including for a fee. “People want to get a shot. And they will get it. Someone wants it faster, someone wants a vaccine from other countries. Okay, we will buy it and offer to people for money. This option should also be available. It is up to every person to choose a vaccine they want,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.
The president also asked the healthcare minister about the current epidemiological situation. According to him, the situation is not bad. The experience of Belarus and other countries shows that the number of detected COVID-19 cases directly depends on the number of tests done. “This is such a marker. However, this is not the main thing. The main thing is pneumonia, including COVID-19 pneumonia. I also know the statistics. I want to know more about the dynamics of pneumonia, including COVID-19 pneumonia, and forecasts,” the Belarusian leader said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that right now only about 240-280 patients need a mechanical ventilator. There are about 2,500 mechanical ventilators at Belarusian healthcare facilities. Plus, there are anesthetic machines. “That is, we use only 8-9% of them. Well, thank God. Therefore, I am interested in dynamics and forecasts,” the president said.
The head of state also asked what conclusions can be drawn from the experience of treating coronavirus patients and how Belarus compares to other countries in this respect.
Another matter on the agenda was the construction of some healthcare facilities, including the renovation of the anesthesiology and resuscitation department with intensive care wards for newborns at the Mother and Child Center, the construction of a surgery and transplantation building on Semashko Street in Minsk, and the construction of a cardiac surgery building at the Mogilev Regional Hospital. “These are three facilities that should be commissioned this year. Do not delay the construction, because it is expensive,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.