This week in Ukraine, the United States is proud to join the Government of Ukraine and international partners in welcoming the arrival of the first delivery of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility.
These vaccines and those that follow will inoculate for free some 20 percent of the country’s population. As an integral part of Ukraine’s mass vaccination campaign, at long last Ukraine can start to envision a post-COVID future.
Our governments have worked together successfully for years to confront the health challenges facing Ukraine, such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and, over the past year, COVID-19. Our collaboration continues as life-saving vaccines arrive to help stem the pandemic in Ukraine.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacted a terrible human toll, stretched our economies, and placed extreme stress on health systems around the world. The emergence of new variants has only broadened the challenges we face.
Vaccination is crucial to controlling the pandemic, slowing the emergence of new variants, and helping to restart the global economy. This is a fact.
Approved, quality vaccines will protect you and those you love from COVID. Taken together with mitigation efforts such as wearing a mask, washing hands, and avoiding gathering in large groups, there is every reason to believe that we can overcome this virus.
It is a global problem that requires a global solution. This first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is possible through COVAX, a historic public health effort delivered in partnership with UNICEF, the WHO, the EU, and other members of the international community.
In keeping with the scale of the challenge, the United States has led by example as the largest contributor to the COVAX initiative. We have provided $2 billion so far and are pledging another $2 billion to ensure people all across the globe have access to a safe, quality-assured vaccine. For Ukraine, that means that COVAX will provide free vaccines to more than eight million people.
Since the very start of the pandemic, the United States has worked closely with Ukraine, contributing more than $50 million to date to support Ukraine’s national response to COVID-19, in addition to U.S. contributions to COVAX. That support is only growing with our assistance to COVID-19 vaccination in Ukraine.
As part of this support, we are working with partners to ensure Ukrainians have access to accurate information about vaccines so they can make informed decisions. We are also supporting the Ministry of Health to ensure appropriate training and logistics arrangements so vaccines can be safely transported and stored. This includes direct support for ultra-cold chain storage and transportation for the initial doses of the Pfizer Biotech vaccine arriving in Ukraine from COVAX.
Despite the hope offered by vaccines, this crisis is far from over. The current situation is deeply challenging, and the roll-out of COVID vaccines will be the largest, most ambitious, and most complex vaccination effort in history. Which is why all of us must continue to do our part.
Through it all, the United States stands with Ukraine. We have stood together since the beginning of the pandemic, and we will continue in the same spirit of partnership that characterizes every element of our rich relationship.
by Kristina A. Kvien, Chargé d'Affaires, a.i., US Embassy in Ukraine