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Kazakhstan considers exporting its QazVac COVID-19 vaccine

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Speaking at a meeting of the Council of Foreign Investors, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said “Kazakhstan is one of the few countries that, thanks to its scientific potential, was able to create and release its own QazVac vaccine against coronavirus. I want to note that we are ready to increase the production of the vaccine and arrange its export abroad,”

At a meeting between Director-General of the World Health Organization Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev via videoconference the WHO leader praised as highly commending the level of Kazakhstan’s interaction with WHO.

President Tokayev welcomed Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s opening remarks at the World Health Assembly, in which he called for increasing global efforts to vaccinate against COVID-19, so that by September 2021 at least 10% of the world’s population will be vaccinated, and by the end of the year by 30%.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appreciated the WHO for the practical support of Kazakhstan for providing protective and medical equipment during the first difficult days of the outbreak.

The President informed Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus about the measures taken by Kazakhstan to tackle the coronavirus.

Special attention at online talks was paid to the vaccination process against COVID-19. President Tokayev told the WHO Director-General about the preliminary results of clinical trials of the Kazakh vaccine “QazVac, efficacy of which reached 96%. Currently, the relevant authorities have started the process of obtaining WHO approval for QazVac.” Said the president.

During the talks, the sides discussed prospects for strengthening cooperation between Kazakhstan and WHO, including in countering the coronavirus pandemic.

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The President reiterated that Kazakhstan is among a few countries that could make and produce its own QazVac vaccine against COVID-19 thanks to its scientific capacity.

He added that the country is willing to rev up the production of its vaccine against COVID-19 and export it abroad.

QazCoVac-P is the second vaccine of the Biosafety Research Institute that has successfully passed preclinical trials in a specialized enterprise of the Kazakh Ministry of Healthcare and met the safety requirements. The first QazVac (QazCovid-in) vaccine was first dispatched on April 22.

The clinical trials involve volunteers of the age group from 18 to 50 years old and are held at the multidisciplinary hospital in Taraz. While QazVac is inactivated vaccine, QazCoVac-P is a subunit vaccine based on artificially synthesized proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Subunit vaccines, similar to inactivated vaccines, do not contain live components of the virus and are considered safe. The adjuvant contained in the vaccine effectively stimulates the immune response without adversely affecting the body of the vaccinated person. Since this type of vaccine contains only the necessary antigens and does not include all the other constituents of the virus, side effects after the subunit vaccine are less common. For example, vaccines against the flu, hepatitis B, pneumococcal, meningococcal and hemophilic infections are all subunit vaccines.

QazCoVac-P is also a two-dose vaccine. Currently, it stimulates immunity in the body of vaccinated laboratory animals on the 14th day after the intramuscular injection of the second dose.

Currently, Kazakhstan uses Russia’s Sputnik V, the locally produced QazVac, and China’s Sinopharm produced in the United Arab Emirates and named Hayat-Vax.

One million people in Kazakhstan have completed the full course of vaccination against COVID-19 by receiving two components of the vaccine, according to the data updated daily by the Kazakh Ministry of Healthcare. A little over 2 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

If clinical trials of the new vaccines are successful, QazCoVac-P will make it possible to accelerate the formation of herd immunity to coronavirus in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan began its mass vaccination campaign on Feb. 1 using Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Currently, Kazakhstan uses Russia’s Sputnik V, the locally produced QazVac, and China’s Sinopharm produced in the United Arab Emirates and named Hayat-Vax.

While locally produced QazVac is a cheaper option for Kazakhstan, the government does not plan to stop vaccination with other vaccines as well.

“Due to the fact that QazVac requires special production conditions, we receive only 50,000 doses per month, and we need to vaccinate our citizens in large volumes faster. If we receive 50,000 doses, then it will take longer time until the plant is launched. We cannot stand still and our task is to launch the vaccination campaign as quickly as possible. Time is critical to us,” explained Kazakh Minister of Healthcare Alexey Tsoy at a press briefing on May 27.

Regarding the transition to post-pandemic life, the Minister of Healthcare announced that the mask regime will be lifted in Kazakhstan when at least 60 percent of the population is vaccinated across the country. “We have 2 million people vaccinated now. That is almost every 10th person. And the number of vaccinated people is growing daily. We say that when residents are vaccinated with the first component, the immunity from the virus increases by 80 percent,” said Tsoy.

Overall, there have been 381,907 registered cases of coronavirus infection since the first case was reported in Kazakhstan on March 13, 2020. The country is currently classified in the yellow zone concerning the epidemiological situation.

Four regions of Kazakhstan are in the red zone, including the Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Akmola and Karaganda regions.

West Kazakhstan, Atyrau, Kostanay, Pavlodar and North Kazakhstan regions are in the yellow zone.

Shymkent, Aktobe, Almaty, East Kazakhstan, Zhambyl, Kyzylorda, Mangistau and Turkestan regions are in the green zone.

While the epidemiological situation remains unstable in Nur-Sultan, there has been a dynamic decrease in the spread of the coronavirus in Almaty over the past week. The improvement of the situation in Almaty could be explained by the preventative measures taken by the city administration and by the growing portion of the immune population.

“There has been a development of 20-25 percent of the immune layer among the population, 15 percent of which is formed due to immunization, 5 percent – due to those who contracted the virus this year and 5 percent – due to those who became ill at the end of last year,” explained city’s chief sanitary doctor Zhandarbek Bekshin.

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