QazVac Vaccine Symbolizes Kazakhstan’s Scientific Potential

QazVac Vaccine Symbolizes Kazakhstan’s Scientific Potential

On 26 April, Kazakhstan started rolling out its homegrown COVID-19 vaccine, QazVac.

The start of this campaign fulfils President Tokayev’s commitment to develop a Kazakh vaccine.

QazVac is a complement to other available vaccines in Kazakhstan, namely Sputnik and Sinopharm. QazVac production should gradually increase to approximately half a million doses per month to partly fulfil domestic demand in the short-term.

Last May, The World Health Organization (WHO) registered the vaccine developed at the Kazakh Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems to the shortlist of COVID-19 candidate vaccines in preclinical evaluation; and in August it was authorized for clinical trials, the 14th vaccine in the world to reach this stage.

QazVac is currently in a stage 3 trial to be completed by July. Participants in the first two stages

have developed immunity to COVID-19, with no major side-effects reported. With QazVac, a symbol of Kazakhstan’s scientific potential, Kazakhstan joins the very exclusive club of countries that have developed their own vaccine against Covid-19 which include the US, China, Russia, the UK, Cuba and India.

The QazVac vaccine also represents a triumph for Kazakhstan’s pharmaceutical industry and the country’s preparedness for future pandemics. The vaccine was developed, as mentioned above, by the Scientific Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems. Established in 1958, the institute has a proven track record and experience in biological safety, biotechnologies, virus science, microbiology and immunology. Among its notable scientific achievements, it has developed several dozen vaccines against highly dangerous viruses such as H5N1 (avian influenza) and H1N1 (swine flu).

While Kazakhstan has not yet indicated a readiness to export QazVac to other countries – as the priority in the short-term will be the inoculation of the Kazakh population, Kazakhstan may be in a position in the medium-term to export to (poorer) neighbouring countries such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan would be a positive sign of a healthy spirit of regional cooperation and solidarity in Central Asia.

More generally, it is expected that the COVID-19 will also accelerate healthcare reforms in the country. In its vision 2050, Kazakhstan lists the creation of a modern and efficient healthcare system as a strategic priority. The political commitment is there to increase expenditures on health and and to ensure equality of health expenditures across the fourteen Kazakh regions. This will ensure greater preparedness and optimization of the health care sector of the in the case of future pandemics and public health emergencies. In the current context of the digitization of the medical industry, it can be also expected that major cities such as Nur-Sultan, Almaty or Shymkent become centres of high-tech medicine.

 

Alberto Turkstra, Project Manager, Diplomatic World Institute