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In the geopolitics of vaccines, a great game with the health of Ukrainians

“Russia is pursuing an active aggressive policy, even with vaccines,” said Alexander Linchevsky, a former deputy health minister. “It is in Russia’s political interest for Ukraine to get the vaccines from elsewhere as late as possible,” because it wants to fill the gap with its own vaccine.

Ukraine, with a population of 42 million, plans to receive eight million doses of vaccines under the Covax program, which supplies low- and middle-income countries that would not otherwise be able to access vaccines. But these doses should arrive at least by March. Negotiations for Western shipments continue later in the year, Mr Stepanov said.

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Answer your questions about the vaccine

While the exact order of vaccine recipients may vary by country, health workers and residents of long-term care facilities are likely to be in the first place. If you want to know how to make this decision, this article will help you.

Life will only return to normal when society as a whole receives sufficient protection against the coronavirus. Once countries allow a vaccine, they will only be able to vaccinate a few percent of their citizens in the first few months at most. The unvaccinated majority will remain vulnerable to infection. The growing number of coronavirus vaccines show strong protection against the disease. But it is also possible for people to spread the virus without even knowing they are infected, as they experience only mild symptoms or none at all. Scientists still do not know if vaccines also block the transmission of coronavirus. So for now, even vaccinated people will have to wear masks, avoid the indoor crowd, and so on. Once enough people are vaccinated, the coronavirus will find it very difficult to find vulnerable people to infect. Depending on how quickly as a society we achieve this goal, life may begin to approach something as normal by the fall of 2021.

Yes, but not forever. The two vaccines, which will potentially be approved this month, clearly protect people from Covid-19. However, clinical trials that have yielded these results are not intended to determine whether vaccinated people can still spread the coronavirus without developing symptoms. This remains an opportunity. We know that people who are naturally infected with the coronavirus can spread it until they experience any cough or other symptoms. Researchers will study this issue extensively as vaccines spread. In the meantime, even vaccinated people will have to think of themselves as possible distributors.

The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is delivered as a shot in the hand, similar to other typical vaccines. The injection will not be different from the ones you have received before. Tens of thousands of people have already received the vaccines, and none of them have reported any serious health problems. But some have experienced short-term discomfort, including pain and flu-like symptoms that usually last for a day. People may need to plan to take a day off from work or school after the second shot. Although these experiences are not pleasant, they are a good sign: they are the result of your own immune system colliding with the vaccine and creating a powerful response that will provide long-lasting immunity.

No. Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use a genetic molecule to prepare the immune system. This molecule, known as mRNA, is eventually destroyed by the body. The MRNA is wrapped in an oil bubble that can fuse with a cell, allowing the molecule to insert. The cell uses mRNA to produce proteins from the coronavirus that can stimulate the immune system. At any given time, each of our cells can contain hundreds of thousands of mRNA molecules that they produce to produce their own proteins. Once these proteins are made, our cells then break down the mRNA with special enzymes. The mRNA molecules that our cells make can only survive for minutes. The MRNA in vaccines is designed to last a little longer on cell enzymes so that cells can produce additional viral proteins and elicit a stronger immune response. But mRNA can last at most a few days before they are destroyed.

Prior to President Trump’s executive order banning vaccine exports from the United States, Ukraine was in talks with Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to speed up supplies. Although negotiations are ongoing, delivery deadlines are being pushed back.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky can barely contain his outrage that his country is winding its way far back in the vaccine queue, despite its precarious geopolitical position.

Russia has been supporting the separatist war in Ukraine’s two eastern provinces for six years as it tries to drive a wedge between Kiev and its Western allies. Vaccine policy plays into the hands of the Kremlin.

“We have to be like political acrobats to be able to get on the priority list for vaccines,” Mr Zelenski said in an interview last month. The US export ban, he said, “puts Ukraine at the bottom of the line.” In a statement to Ukrainians at the end of the year, Mr Zelensky wrote bitterly that, unfortunately, the “richest” countries would have vaccines first.

In late December, Ukraine accelerated negotiations with Chinese supplier Sinovac Biotech, announcing on New Year’s Eve an order for 1.9 million doses for delivery in early February. That is hardly enough, but it is still a geopolitical victory for China, providing some relief when Western countries look the other way.

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