Ukraine: Health workers welcome COVID-19 vaccination drive

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine initiated Wednesday a vaccine drive against COVID-19 in an effort to combat the spread of the tingling health care infrastructure in Ukraine.

Patient and military staff were the first to collect shotings of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in various regions of the world, with 500,000 doses arriving in Ukrainian capital India on Tuesday.

Infection "is better prevented than later to treat the disease's complications," said Yevgeny Gorenko, intensive care specialist who was shot for the first time on Wednesday. Gorenko works in a COVID-19 clinic at a hospital in Cherkasy, town 200kilometers south-east of Kyiv.

This year the Ukrainian authorities are preparing to vaccinate 14.4 million people, or around 35% of the nation's 41 million.

Officers suggested that the first shipment of vaccines will be provided to medical staff and military forces in eastern Ukraine, where war has continued with Russian-backed separatists since 2014, and to areas in western Ukraine that have the highest rates of infection.

The Ukrainian nation anticipates obtaining more vaccine doses from Pfizer-BioNTech or Novavax under the UN-supported COVAX delivery scheme, as well as a purchasing deal for 1,9 million doses of vaccine from the Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech.

Ukraine has reported 1,3 million confirmed cases and over 25,000 deaths since the onset of the pandemic.

Since the two-week lockdown ended last month, the number of reported virus cases in the western part of the country has increased dramatically, with local authorities reintroducing lockdown restrictions and setting up forth forthwith make-up hospitals in the city of Ivano-Frankivsk.

The growth of diseases has put a serious burden on medical staff who expect that the vaccine campaign will help.

"This is the strongest wave [of the outbreak], but we have not yet faced such a wave," said Vitaly Akubyak, a hospital anesthesiologist in Kolomyya's Western Town.

The hospital at which he operates is now complete and treats 175 COVID-19 s patients, although originally only 150 people could be admitted.

"Vaccination gives Ukrainians hope," said Akubyak.

In Kolomyya, Ukraine, Mstyslav Chernov contributed to this article.