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Ukraine Appoints New Health Minister To Speed Up COVID Vaccinations

By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service May 20, 2021

Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has named a new health minister, who immediately pledged to speed up the country's sluggish vaccination campaign.

Former Deputy Health Minister Viktor Lyashko was promoted to replace Maksym Stepanov, who was fired this week after Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal blamed him for a lack of vaccine doses.

Parliament also appointed Oleksiy Lyubchenko, the head of the State Tax Service, as the new economy minister.

Lyubchenko, 49, replaced Ihor Petrashko, who resigned earlier this week amid an ongoing recession.

Ukraine is one of the European countries worst affected by the pandemic and its vaccination campaign has been lagging.

So far, less than 1 million Ukrainians have received their first vaccine dose. The country of some 41 million has registered around 2.2 million infections and almost 49,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Lyashko told parliament that the fight against the virus was his "No. 1 priority," adding that setting up domestic manufacturing of vaccines would also be top priority.

Shmyhal said this week that only 2.3 million doses of vaccine had been delivered to Ukraine so far.

With reporting by Reuters and Interfax

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-new -health-minister/31264705.html

Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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