Meeting to discuss antiviral vaccines
Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko held a government conference to discuss antiviral vaccines and localization of production of foreign vaccines in Belarus on 22 December.
The head of state noted that the whole world has focused on one problem – how to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. All countries are taking extraordinary measures to put an end to the pandemic, and Belarus is no exception. The President emphasized that the country is fighting against the spread of coronavirus ‘in a calm way, as it is supposed to, keeping the health system running’.
“Over the past two weeks, we have been regularly discussing detection and treatment of coronavirus patients. I have invited you to discuss the next stage in the fight against the global disease - mass vaccination of people in order to develop the so-called herd immunity,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
Almost all countries have joined the ‘race of vaccines’, about 200 potential vaccines are currently in the works. Every day we hear statements about successes which are immediately followed by reports about failures, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.
“Unfortunately, health of millions of people is turning into strictly a business issue. In addition, the countries with the necessary scientific and production capacities take into account, first of all, their needs and their political priorities in matters concerning the development and manufacture of vaccines,” the President noted. “When events take a turn for the worse, the borders are immediately closed, the export of biotechnology goods, medical products and special equipment is stopped.”
The head of state noted that the international community and international organizations have not yet been able to offer effective tools for restoring justice and humanity in this matter.
According to the head of state, Belarus can do large-scale vaccination against COVID-19 in two ways. The first one is to produce its own vaccines. “We have scientists, projects, schools – we should work on that. I want you tell me about the prospects because we cannot waste money. Therefore, we will work on Belarusian vaccines,” the President said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that the production of immunological medicines of such level is a brand-new task for Belarus. “There is a certain potential in the Healthcare Ministry, and in the Academy of Sciences. I am told that leading researchers and scientists in virology, immunology, genetics, cellular engineering are already working on that,” the head of state said.
In order to choose the most widespread strain of the virus for the production of the vaccine, scientists have studied the genetic variety of its strains. Three possible technologies of getting a vaccine prototype are being developed. The immunity dynamics in patients after the coronavirus pneumonia and the aspects of preserving the immune response are being analyzed.
It will help choose a major “target” for the production of the Belarusian vaccine, the President said. Researchers are also working on the technological process and are looking for the suppliers of equipment.
The second approach is to localize the production of foreign vaccines. Aleksandr Lukashenko asked about the state of affairs in this field – the terms, volumes, sources of financing, prospects, and the future of the joint project of Belfarmprom and Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.
“However, regardless of whether we start producing a vaccine within a reasonable time period or not, I want the public to know that the country will have enough vaccines, and everyone will be able to get it,” the head of state assured.
According to the President, the most vulnerable population groups will be vaccinated in the first instance. These include elderly people, doctors, teachers, trade workers. “We will always find funds for that, we must do it,” he stressed.