Kazakhstan rolls out national coronavirus vaccine
A woman receives a dose of the Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) vaccine against the coronavirus disease at a vaccination point in the Abylkhan Kasteyev State Museum of Arts of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Almaty on April 17, 2021. AFP
Kazakhstan on Monday rolled out its homegrown coronavirus vaccine, with the Central Asian country's health minister receiving the jab on live television.
QazCovid-in, also known as QazVac, is a two-shot vaccine that is currently in third stage trials.
The state broadcaster Khabar said that 50,000 doses of the vaccine developed by the state-backed Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems have been distributed across the vast oil-rich country.
Health Minister Alexei Tsoi told Khabar that he felt "well" after receiving his shot and said the government was negotiating with partners in Turkey to produce future batches of the vaccine.
In a tweet on Friday, Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev hailed the former Soviet republic's achievement in becoming "one of the few states" to develop and produce a national vaccine.
Kazakhstan became the first foreign country to produce Russia's Sputnik V vaccine earlier this year, and the Russian jab has dominated the mass inoculation drive in the nation of nearly 19 million people.
Health Minister Tsoi told Khabar that "one in 20" Kazakh citizens have been vaccinated against the coronavirus since the campaign began in February.
As of Monday, Kazakhstan had registered 309,116 coronavirus cases and 3,570 deaths.