Ukraine requests $100 million World Bank loan for COVID-19 vaccine

·1-min read
A medical specialist walks past a patient, who breathes through an oxygen mask in a hospital for people infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Kyiv

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine is seeking a $100 million loan from the World Bank to buy doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, deputy health minister Svitlana Shatalova said on Thursday, as the number of new infections in the country hit a daily record high.

"We are now working on a package of documents, working very actively to finalise all agreements," she told a televised briefing.

"The funds will be allocated for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as for diagnostic and laboratory equipment," she said, without giving further details.

Ukraine’s Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said last week the country hoped to receive 8 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in the first half of next year under the global COVAX Facility, which has been set up to provide the vaccine to poorer countries.

Earlier on Thursday Stepanov said Ukraine had registered a record 15,331 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, up from a previous peak of 14,580 reported on Nov. 21.

That has taken the total number of cases in Ukraine to 677,189, with 11,717 deaths.

The daily tally began rising in September and has been consistently high ever since.

The government has imposed a national lockdown at weekends to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The lockdown has meant closing or restricting most businesses, except essential services such as grocery shops, pharmacies, hospitals and transport. The decision triggered protests by businesses.

With infections growing, the government is considering a full two-week lockdown in the holiday season over Christmas and New Year.

(Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Editing by Tom Hogue and Jan Harvey)