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Ukraine hopes to receive 8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine

FILE PHOTO: Medical specialists wearing protective gear stand next to an ambulance outside a hospital for patients infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Kyiv, Ukraine November 9, 2020. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine said on Friday it hoped to receive 8 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in the first half of next year and reported 14,575 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, passing the previous day’s record of 13,357.

The tally climbed to 598,085 cases, with 10,598 deaths, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said.

The daily infection tally began rising in September and has been consistently high ever since, spurring the government to impose a national lockdown at weekends to strengthen steps to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The lockdown means closing or restricting most businesses except essential services such as grocery shops, pharmacies, hospitals and transport.

Stepanov told Reuters on Wednesday that Ukraine faced a “very severe” period of COVID-19 cases but will not tighten lockdown restrictions because measures taken last week should stabilise the situation.

Ukraine participates in the global COVAX Facility, which has been set up to provide COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries. Stepanov said Ukraine hoped to receive enough vaccine for up to 20% of its population.

“This is 8 million doses. By Dec. 7, we must sign all technical documents and expect that in the first half of 2021 we will already start receiving the vaccine,” he said.

He said the first tranche could total 1.2 million doses and it would be used primarily for groups most at risk. He gave no further details.

Stepanov said Ukraine had also held talks with all possible vaccine manufacturers and suppliers and already issued budget funds for the purchases.

Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Timothy Heritage