NUR-SULTAN – Kazakhstan has joined the select number of countries that have produced and made available their own COVID-19 vaccine, as President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev tweeted on Friday, 23 April that the first batch of QazVac vaccine had been despatched to several regions of the country.
“Vaccine production will be increased to make it available to all citizens. Kazakhstan has become one of the few states that have created their own vaccine. I thank the scientists and all the specialists who participated in its development”, the president said.
Last October, it was Tokayev who gave instructions about the development of the country’s own vaccine.
Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister Yeraly Tugzhanov took part in dispatching the first batch of Kazakh vaccine QazVac (QazCovid-in) against the COVID-19, reports the press office of the Prime Minister. The vaccine was developed on the basis of the Kazakh Biosafety Research Institute.
On April 23, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev commented on the QazVac progress on his Twitter account. “The delivery of the QazVac vaccine to the regions of the country has started. We will increase domestic vaccine production for it to be available to all citizens. Kazakhstan is one of the few countries in the world able to produce its own vaccine. Thank you to all the scientists and specialists who developed the vaccine!,” said President Tokayev.
Tugzhanov noted that all the orders of the President on the issue of the Kazakh vaccine, which were first given last October, are in the process of implementation.
The first 50,000 doses of the vaccine will be distributed to the SK-Pharmacy hubs and delivered to the regional health management warehouses across the country. Vaccination of the population with the QazVac vaccine is set to begin on April 26. Another 50,000 doses are planned to be issued in May. Further production of the vaccine will gradually increase to 500,000-600,000 doses per month.
The vaccination against the coronavirus started Feb. 1 in Kazakhstan. The nation currently uses Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, which is manufactured at the Karaganda pharmaceutical plant.
As of today, the vaccination in the country has reached 823,498 people with the first-dose injection and 132,603 with the full vaccination, according to the Kazakh Ministry of Healthcare.
Almaty continues to lead the vaccinated population rating with 162,635 first-dose vaccinated. Almaty region (111,831), Nur-Sultan (78,174), Karaganda region (76,069) and Shymkent (73,815) follow next.
The arrival of QazVac is a strong indication of the Central Asian country’s scientific and industrial potential. Apart from Cuba, all the other countries that have developed COVID-19 vaccines, including the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, and India, have significantly larger economies and population sizes.
The QazVac (QazCovid-in) vaccine is a product of the Research Institute for Biological Safety, according to the prime minister’s press service.
Deputy Prime Minister Yeraly Tugzhanov, who took part in the shipment of the first batch of QazVac in the Zhambyl region, was quoted as saying that the creation of the vaccine allowed Kazakhstan to become one of the few countries in the world that had developed their own anti-coronavirus vaccines, proving the strong potential of domestic science.
The first 50,000 doses of QazVac vaccine will be distributed among pharmacy hubs and delivered to all regions of the country. Vaccination with QazVac is expected to kick off on 26 April.
The next batch – another 50,000 doses – will be produced in May. Reportedly, the plans are to step up production of the vaccine to reach 500-600,000 doses per month in the future.
Earlier, the Director General of the Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems, Kunsulu Zakarya, said Kazakhstan’s vaccine had 100% efficacy in the first stage of clinical trials and 96% efficacy in the second stage of clinical trials.
It can be stored at temperatures of between 2 and 8°C, making it easier to transport and store for up to one year in a freezer.
Kazakhstan has a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases, possibly as the result of stringent measures. On Friday, the number of cases totalled 300,733, with 3,512 deaths, while some 257,278 people have recovered.