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Ukraine approves China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine

FILE PHOTO: A booth displaying a coronavirus vaccine candidate from Sinovac Biotech Ltd is seen at the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), following the COVID-19 outbreak, in Beijing, China September 4, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine has approved the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac, the health ministry said on Tuesday.

Ukrainian pharmaceutical company Lekhim - one of Sinovac’s partners - has an agreement with the manufacturer to deliver 5 million doses of the vaccine in Ukraine, including 1.9 million via a state procurement scheme.

Lekhim said last month it had submitted documents seeking approval for the shot, while a senior ministry official said last week that authorities would impose financial penalties on the company over delays in delivering it.

Ukraine, one of Europe’s poorer countries, has lagged behind many of its neighbours in securing vaccines for its 41 million people, asking European Union states for help while refusing to buy Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

Ukraine started COVID-19 vaccinations in late February but only 19,118 first shots had been given by March 9.

Health Minister Maksym Stepanov earlier on Tuesday urged regional authorities to speed up inoculations, voicing concern over the appearance of the variant first identified in Britain.

Ukraine has reported more than 1.4 million coronavirus cases with 27,204 deaths.

Reporting by Natalia Zinets, writing by Pavel Polityuk; editing by John Stonestreet

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