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Healthcare

UPDATE 1-EU backs Poland's plan to give Ukraine extra 1.2 mln vaccine doses, says Kyiv

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KYIV, Feb 10 (Reuters) - The European Commission will support Poland’s intention to provide Ukraine with an additional batch of 1.2 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, the Ukrainian government said on Wednesday.

Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said the EU was ready to help Ukraine with delivery of the batch, the government said in a statement.

One of Europe’s poorest countries, Ukraine has lagged behind others in starting its vaccination programme against COVID-19, which has infected more than 1.25 million Ukrainians and killed 23,934 as of Feb. 10.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy this week said Ukraine, which hopes to vaccinate half of its population by early 2022, was in talks with other countries including Poland about receiving some of their vaccines.

It has called on the European Union and EU member states for help in securing vaccines, while resisting buying Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine due to toxic relations between the two countries since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Zelenskiy said last week that Ukraine had secured 20 million doses from India’s Serum Institute and the global COVAX scheme.

The health ministry also agreed in December to buy 1.9 million doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech at $18 per shot via a Ukrainian intermediary, the pharmaceutical firm Lekhim.

Anti-corruption campaigners said the deal was expensive and a prosecutor said on Wednesday Ukraine’s anti-corruption bureau had begun an investigation into whether the government paid too much. (Reporting by Natalia Zinets, writing by Pavel Polityuk; editing by John Stonestreet and Giles Elgood)

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