Kazakhstan’s first domestically developed Covid-19 vaccine, called QazVac (QazCovid-in), will be put into use on April 26, the country’s government said on Thursday. The first batch of 50,000 doses of Kazakhstan’s coronavirus vaccine will be reportedly distributed among health departments across the country.
The first homegrown vaccine was developed by the Kazakhstan Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems, where the first batch was manufactured.
President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who initiated the development of the vaccine, has already thanked the researchers.
“Kazakhstan has become one of the few states that have created their own vaccine. I thank the scientists and all the specialists who participated in its development”, President Tokayev wrote on his Twitter, adding that the production will be further increased to make it available to all citizens.
According to government data, the next batch of 50,000 doses will be manufactured in May, with a gradual increase of up to 600,000 doses per month.
Researchers at the Kazakhstan Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems started developing their vaccine last May. QazVac has already been included in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “Draft landscape of Covid-19 candidate vaccines” report.
Government officials in Kazakhstan believe that the creation of the homegrown vaccine proves the strong potential of domestic science.
The developers of QazVac say Kazakhstan’s vaccine had 100 percent efficacy in the first stage of clinical trials and 96 percent in the second stage of clinical trials. Researchers at the National Center for Drug Expertise are convinced that QazVac is well tolerated even despite malaise, fatigue, pain, and fever that can be caused by the vaccine.
“The duration of these symptoms, as a rule, does not exceed three days. It is extremely rare, as with any other vaccination, that allergic reactions may occur,” according to the center.
Distribution and storage of the vaccine don’t seem like a logistics challenge because it needs to be stored at temperatures between −8 and +2 °C.
Meanwhile, the announcement comes amid concerns over the emergence of new strains of the virus, but developers of QazVac claim that their brainchild can resist even mutated viruses.
“Our inactivated vaccine is made entirely from virion. It contains the entire spectrum of proteins that can be found inside the virus. Therefore, the immunity that appears after vaccination with our domestic drug can resist any virus that has undergone a mutation,” said Kunsulu Zakarya, who heads the Kazakhstan Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems, according to a report by Tengrinews.
More than 306,400 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Kazakhstan since the pandemic began. The nation reported more than 3,550 deaths from Covid-19, while 261,647 have recovered.
Kazakhstan has been relying on the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine since launching mass vaccination on February 1. The first to get a non-mandatory vaccination were only healthcare workers, teachers, and law enforcement officers. In early April, vaccines became available to other Kazakhstanis, but in Almaty, the country’s largest city, vaccination was limited for several days due to a lack of vaccine.
As of April 22, 796,400 people, or 4.2 percent of the country’s population received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to Kazakhstan’s health ministry.
Last December, Kazakhstan launched local production of “Sputnik V” developed by Russia's Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. The initiative followed an agreement signed by the presidents of the two neighboring countries. Central Asia’s largest country is also in talks to buy vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, Sinovac, and Johnson & Johnson.
Previously, Kazakhstan has paused talks on purchasing the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine due to reports about its side effects.