NUR-SULTAN – Kazakhstan will deliver the Pfizer vaccine to ensure Kazakh citizens have a wider choice of vaccines against COVID-19, said Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at the July 10 expanded government meeting.
There have been four vaccines against COVID-19 available for the country’s citizens – Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, the country’s own QazVac vaccine, China’s Sinovaс and Hayat-Vax produced in the United Arab Emirates with the Chinese Sinopharm technology.
“Expanding the number of available vaccines, including internationally recognized vaccines, is still necessary. The emergence of new variants, as well as the price and quality parameters, must be taken into account,” Tokayev told the meeting.
He said that the instructions to deliver the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were given back last year, but the government failed to ensure the supply of the vaccine to the country.
“According to the agreement, Pfizer planned to supply two million doses to Kazakhstan in May this year. The government explains the disrupted supply with a number of requirements that were put forward by Pfizer. But these conditions are standard for all countries that purchase the vaccine,” said Tokayev, instructing the government and his administration to take action against the officials who were responsible for disrupting the supply.
Vaccination has been repeatedly brought up by the government as the only solution to curbing the spread of coronavirus infection. The variants that continue to circulate, including the Delta variant named as the most transmissible by the WHO, make the task more urgent.
“We need to diversify the choice (of vaccines) for our citizens. Perhaps some citizens would like to be vaccinated with this particular vaccine, so give them this chance. The problem must be solved as soon as possible and ensure that the Pfizer vaccine is available to the citizens,” said Tokayev.
He emphasized that the healthcare system should be ready regardless of how the epidemiological situation will unfold.
Besides the coronavirus infection, there are other equally important healthcare issues that need to be addressed.
“Maternal mortality increased by a third and deaths from heart disease by 40 percent. The low level of equipment, especially in intensive care units and emergency rooms, also contributes to this,” said Tokayev.
Bureaucratic hurdles may hinder the procurement of medical equipment, but an “unreasonably large price difference” is also a problem, according to Tokayev.
Tokayev instructed the government to study international best practices, including in Turkey, and propose a transparent and effective mechanism for the procurement of medical equipment.
He also spoke about the need for closer cooperation with Big Pharma, the nickname given to the world’s pharmaceutical industry. They possess technology, knowledge, and experience that Kazakhstan can learn from.
“All conditions should be created for investment, localization of production, and transfer of innovative technologies,” said Tokayev.