Vaccine Hesitancy Causes Record Number of COVID-19 Deaths in Ukraine

The Ukrainian authorities reported a COVID-19 death surge to all-time highs on Thursday and blamed it on the slow pace of vaccination in the country.

The Ukrainian Health Ministry has recorded 23,785 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 614 coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, the highest numbers since the start of the pandemic.

Ukraine has registered over 2.7 million infections and about 63,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

Of the 41 million Ukrainian population, the government was able to vaccinate only about 15 percent, the second-lowest vaccination rate in Europe next to Armenia.

Despite the infection surge, the government was reluctant to enforce another lockdown.

“There are just two ways — vaccination or lockdown. I’m against the lockdown for the sake of (the) economy,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Denys Shymyhal announced that all types of interregional transportation from Thursday onwards would only be available to vaccinated passengers and passengers with a negative PCR test.

“All interregional transportation will be allowed only if passengers have a COVID certificate or a valid negative PCR test. We are talking about rail, aviation, and bus transport,” Shmyhal said.

Shmyhal added that vaccinations and restrictions for the unvaccinated would help the government not “introduce a lockdown.”

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