Coronavirus: Ukraine orders probe into MP COVID-19 vaccine smuggling claims

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Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky on Wednesday ordered a probe into allegations elected officials had smuggled coronavirus vaccines into the country to have themselves inoculated in secret.

The leader’s announcement followed allegations from businessman Mykhailo Brodsky that some MPs and possibly even Prime Minister Denys Chmygal had received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a private Kiev clinic.

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“I have ordered the security services to verify without delay the information about supposed smuggling of coronavirus vaccines,” Zelensky posted to the Telegram messaging service.

“If someone has really had the idea of importing the vaccine secretly and against the law to sell it, there should be the most severe reaction possible,” Zelensky added.

Ukraine has received no vaccine doses so far through official channels.

In a post on his news website Obozrevatel, Brodsky said the vaccine doses were brought from Israel on a charter flight in late December, at a cost of 2,500 euros ($3,075) per two-dose regimen.

Chmygal posted to Telegram that he planned to be vaccinated only after approved shots had arrived in Ukraine and been issued to care workers and vulnerable people.

One of Europe’s poorest countries, Ukraine said in late December it would buy almost two million doses of the Chinese-made CoronaVac vaccine, but has not specified a date when they will be delivered.

Kiev has been criticized for failing to secure supplies of western-made vaccines like the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shots, seen as more trustworthy.

Ukraine is also holding out for eight million doses of vaccine via the World Health Organization’s Covax program for poorer countries, set to be delivered in spring.

With a run-down health system, Ukraine had by Wednesday recorded 1.1 million cases of coronavirus and 19,357 deaths in a population of around 40 million.

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