Ukraine's Health Minister Maksym Stepanov has warned of the "aftermath" of a probe launched by the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) into alleged abuse amid COVID-19 vaccine procurements.
"Due to smear campaigns, we have already started seeing such a reluctant reaction from vaccine producers as for future cooperation. The goal of those who prepare such statements at NABU has nothing to do with the Ukrainian one, with the patriotic goal. They just resolve their narrow, political things, which they have set for themselves as a goal," he said at a briefing on February 16.
Stepanov stressed this is an attempt by the Bureau to disrupt the vaccination campaign.
"In turn, this paves the way for one vaccine that we have so persistently been offered. This is the Russian Sputnik V vaccine," the minister said.
At the same time, Stepanov stressed he was personally against the registration of the Russian vaccine since the Ukrainians must be vaccinated with safe Western medications.
"I am sure this is a game against Ukraine, Ukrainian doctors and citizens in general. And it is going on. You will see this soon, during another attack," he added.
Read alsoHealth minister reacts to allegations of abuse in Chinese jab dealBackground
- On February 3, 2021, the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine launched a probe into alleged abuse in the purchase of a Chinese vaccine against COVID-19 manufactured by Sinovac Biotech.
- The investigation is probing into procurements of a Chinese vaccine from Sinovac Biotech at US$17.85 per dose via a private intermediary firm.
- The case has received wide media coverage, since a state-owned enterprise, Medical Procurement of Ukraine, had initially entered into negotiations on buying a vaccine with an estimated cost of about US$3, and came to the final stage of the procedure. However, later, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov halted the process and instructed the authorities to start talks on the purchase of a Chinese vaccine from Sinovac Biotech.
- The announced purchase price of a single vaccine dose has turned out to be one of the world's highest, while the drug's "overall efficacy" during the final stage of trials in Brazil was a mere 50.38%.
- Preliminary charges brought by NABU are abuse of power or office, resulting in serious consequences (Part 2 of Article 364 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).