Original Article

World Health Organization

19 September 2022

On 18 September, 400 000 doses of the Comirnaty mRNA vaccine against COVID-19 developed by Pfizer/BioNTech were delivered to Ukraine under the framework of the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility. The vaccines will be distributed throughout 23 regions in the country by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.  

“Together with our international partners, we continue to deliver vaccines against COVID-19 to Ukraine. With the approach of the autumn/winter period, it is especially important to protect yourself from COVID-19, because as the experience of past years shows, the incidence increases sharply at this time,” said Dr Ihor Kuzin, Deputy Minister of Health and Chief State Sanitary Doctor of Ukraine. 

“Vaccination is an important priority during humanitarian emergencies, and one of UNICEF's key areas of work aimed at the protection and well-being of children and their parents. UNICEF will continue to help Ukraine provide access to immunization and adhere to a cold chain for vaccines,” emphasized Mr Murat Sahin, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Ukraine. 

Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative in Ukraine, explained, “WHO continues to support Ukraine’s health system through the delivery of vaccines via the COVAX Facility and has trained over 30 000 health workers on the safe and effective use of COVID-19 vaccines, including on the use of the Comirnaty Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.”  

Dr Habicht added, “WHO urges everybody, especially the elderly, people with chronic diseases and those belonging to at-risk groups, to get their primary vaccine series and boosters against COVID-19 and to protect themselves and others as we enter the autumn/winter period.”  

The Comirnaty vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech contains messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) molecules that encode the spike protein found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. After the vaccine is administered, this mRNA enters the cells of the body and provides them with a kind of instruction on how to create this protein. The immune system recognizes that the protein does not belong to the person and produces antibodies against it. This is how the body learns to protect itself in the case of an encounter with a real SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

The vaccine is approved for emergency use by WHO. In Ukraine, the Comirnaty vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech was registered for use on 22 February 2021. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, Ukraine has received COVID-19 vaccines for free through COVAX. COVAX is an international initiative that promotes access to effective and safe vaccines against COVID-19 for all countries. Deliveries on behalf of the initiative will continue to protect as many people as possible in Ukraine from the coronavirus disease. 

All adults and children over the age of 12 can be vaccinated against COVID-19 in Ukraine. A booster dose can be taken by all people over the age of 18. The second booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine is available for all people over 60 years old in Ukraine, as well as to those aged 18–59 with underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of a severe course of COVID-19. 

The European Union, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi), UNICEF, the United Kingdom, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and WHO all continue to support Ukraine on COVID-19 vaccination. Future deliveries will ensure that as many people as possible receive protection.

The Comirnaty vaccine delivery was made possible thanks to financial support from USAID.