Kazakhstan suspends talks on buying AstraZeneca vaccine

FILE PHOTO: A vial with the AstraZeneca's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is pictured in Berlin, Germany, March 16, 2021. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

NUR-SULTAN (Reuters) - Kazakhstan has paused talks on purchasing the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine due to reports about its side effects, the Central Asian nation’s healthcare ministry said on Wednesday.

“We are carrying out negotiations with regards to vaccines that have the least side effects,” Asylbek Nurlybekov, deputy head of the ministry’s pharmaceutical and medical control department, told a briefing.

Kazakhstan, which has already secured supplies and even arranged local production of Russia-developed Sputnik V vaccine, is also in talks on buying vaccines produced by Pfizer, Moderna, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson, he added.

Kazakhstan’s neighbour Uzbekistan, which received its first 660,000-dose batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Wednesday, provided for free under the COVAX initiative, said it would press ahead and use it.

Bahodir Yusupaliyev, the head of sanitary and epidemiological welfare and public health service, told a briefing that all vaccines had side effects and that Uzbek citizens would be able to choose between different vaccines.

Reporting by Tamara Vaal; Additional reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov in Tashkent; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov,; Editing by Louise Heavens