Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko visited Minsk City Clinical Hospital No. 4 named after N.Ye.Savchenko on 14 December.
The head of state got familiar with the organization of medical assistance to coronavirus patients.
Chief physician of the hospital Vatslav Yanushko told the President that the hospital has 888 beds, and that 70% of them are used for the treatment of Covid-19 patients. The hospital continues to provide services in the field of expertise, although to a lesser extent.
“We must understand that there are many other patients apart from those with coronavirus. People are still suffering from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer. Therefore, you are doing the right thing helping people with other diseases,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “The main thing is to make sure that this number of beds is enough.”
According to the head of state, it makes no sense to keep people in hospitals for too long if they are getting better. “When people finish their treatment at home, they feel more comfortable and recover more quickly. It does not mean that we should discharge patients as quickly as possible. But if there is good dynamics, if patients are recovering well, we should not keep them in hospital. Statistics shows: 0.31% of people (even less than 1%) are hospitalized again. This is a good indicator. It proves the efficiency of the system, and we should keep it not to repurpose more cancer treatment facilities for the treatment of Covid-19 patients,” the President said.
In his words, Russian healthcare specialists forecast a surge of cancer in the coming years in their country. Less preventive measures are taken because of COVID-19. “We must keep a vigilant eye on this matter. Timely diagnostics of cancer and other diseases is needed,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
During the meeting with the personnel of the hospital the head of state said that his visit was not planned. “My visit is unexpected: I came here to see how you were working. Only yesterday evening I decided to visit your hospital,” the President said.
He thanked healthcare workers for patience and perseverance in such difficult conditions. “Thank you very much for what you are doing. If you need something, if there are any personal issues, please tell us, and we will try to help,” the head of state assured.
Answering doctors’ questions, the head of state said that Belarus might produce its own coronavirus vaccine. The head of state informed that three main coronavirus containment strategies are on the table now: the purchase of a Russian vaccine, the production of vaccines from the Russian strain in Belarus, and the development of Belarus’ own vaccine.
“It is possible that we will have to resort to all the three options. We will need to buy a vaccine in order to urgently vaccinate a risk group (these are doctors and nurses first of all). It would be good to start producing a vaccine locally. It is not only about selling it afterwards, but about meeting our own needs. Therefore, all the three options will be used. If our scientists achieve meaningful progress in it, we will start producing our own vaccine,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
According to him, Russia is ready to give Belarus everything it needs to embark on vaccine production.
“Why don’t I rule out the production of our own vaccine? I am sure that this infection [coronavirus] will stay with us forever. Therefore, we will need a vaccine. And not only today or tomorrow, but also the day after tomorrow,” the head of state explained. “If we learn to produce a vaccine on our own and gain experience, we will have good specialists, scientists, good doctors, and thus the healthcare system will improve this way. In general, biotechnology has great prospects,” he emphasized.
Specialists from Vitebsk and scientists from the National Academy of Sciences submitted proposals for the production of the country’s own vaccine to the head of state.
The President pointed to a fierce competition for the development and production of vaccines. “What worries me about this vaccine is a fight for money. Billions of dollars are involved, and everyone began to fight for this money. This overshadows the responsibility for the vaccine and for those people who take part in the trials,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
All the above-mentioned options are to be discussed on 17 December at a meeting hosted by the head of state.