Uzbekistan to start mass coronavirus vaccination from April 1

FILE PHOTO: Uzbek law enforcement officers check drivers' documents at a checkpoint as they enforce government restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Tashkent, Uzbekistan April 9, 2020. REUTERS/Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov

TASHKENT (Reuters) - Uzbekistan will start the first stage of mass vaccination against coronavirus with the AstraZeneca vaccine from April 1, an Uzbek Health official said on Wednesday.

Elderly and disabled people, employees of the healthcare and education systems, as well as members of law enforcement bodies will be vaccinated in the first place, the deputy head of sanitary and epidemiological welfare and public health service Nurmat Atabekov told the local media.

Uzbekistan last week received its first 660,000-dose batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine, provided for free under the COVAX initiative. “We are waiting to receive 1.5 million doses of the same vaccine,” he said.

Uzbekistan is negotiating with Russia to get 1 million doses of Sputnik-V vaccine as well, he said, adding that the country will also use the vaccine developed by China’s Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co.

Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov