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White House struggles to define vaccine diplomacy leaves Ukraine in limbo

In February, Kvien said the United States would provide financial assistance to Ukraine to help distribute the vaccine doses received from COVAX.

“It’s not our biggest donation yet, but it comes at a critical time,” Kvien said in a February statement. “It builds on our long-standing partnership with Ukraine to support healthcare reform and fight infectious diseases, including COVID. As you know, we have already provided $ 48 million in aid to Ukraine just for COVID. “

But officials working on the federal government’s Covid-19 response are still divided over whether the United States should send doses overseas at a time when home vaccination rates are slowing. As US demand slows, it becomes increasingly difficult for the administration to estimate how many doses it will be able to spare. American critics note, however, that the country has ordered more than a billion doses of the vaccine from several manufacturers – more than enough to immunize every American.

The issue of vaccine equity has taken on new urgency amid epidemics in the southern hemisphere, officials including World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus blaming rich countries to store doses. Officials in poor countries like Ukraine have become increasingly panicked as the international COVAX program has been slow to deliver doses.

The conversation about vaccine diplomacy is relatively new to Blinken, who on any other high-profile trip to Kiev at any other time would be primarily concerned with appealing to Ukraine’s concerns about Russia. But the Covid-19 pandemic has instilled a new sense of anxiety in diplomatic meetings as countries scramble to be the first to receive international aid from Covid-19.

From Ukraine access to Covid-19 vaccines are far from certain. The country administered more than 750,000 doses nowadays. Most came from a batch of 12 million doses of AstraZeneca that the Indian Serum Institute sent in March. But local authorities are plagued with stocks to vaccinate the rest of the nearly 40 million people living in Ukraine.

Last month Ukraine approved the use of more than 200,000 doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine he received in March. Ukraine is also expected to receive an additional 16 million doses of COVAX vaccine. Kiev also recently signed an agreement with Pfizer for 20 million doses of its injection – enough to immunize 10 million people. It is not known when these doses of Pfizer will arrive.

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