After a critical public health situation during July, when hospitals were overcrowded with patients, Kazakhstan announced that it has successfully overcome the situation through coordination between different government bodies.
The Government of Kazakhstan announced that the number of total Covid-19 cases in the country reached 92,662, with a recovery rate of 69% and a morbidity rate of 1.2%. Hospital’s workload dropped to 36%.
Since August 1, Kazakhstan started publishing combined statistics of Covid-19 cases along people suffering from pneumonia caused by the virus, following the recommendation of WHO.
Combining the statistics took about two weeks using a new coding algorithm developed by the Kazakhstan Ministry of health, and trained medical staff to identify symptoms of coronavirus pneumonia.
The Government said that this process is a reason for the complexity of defining the disease, while PCR tests often show negative results with Covid-19 pneumonia patients making it harder to detect. But according to the Government, the new counting system will eradicate any misinformation or groundless statements.
To ensure stability, the Ministry of Health of Kazakhstan is working in collaboration with other departments to prepare for the annual increase in influenza and respiratory viral infections during the autumn-winter period.
Preparations include vaccination for influenza, fully equipped hospital beds, PCR tests, and medicine stockpiling in the retail sector and warehouses, along with providing supplies for the medical organizations.
To provide comprehensive medical care to the population, for patients with coronavirus-like pneumonia, Covid-19 treatment regimens are being prepared for subsequent transferral to health care facilities.
Ministry of Health increased the bed capacity from 30,400 to 49,700 to provide timely medical care for patients, with 2,962 units of mobile teams to care for outpatients at home, with plans to increase the number to 3,500. The number of call centers increased by 16% to provide fast response and advice calls.
According to the latest data, Kazakhstan has 1,958 ventilators in hospitals, and the government is planning to purchase 4,183 units of equipment and connect about 21,000 beds to oxygen and 6,237 points to oxygen concentration. Labs in the country can produce 32,000 PCR tests per day, and starting from September the capacity will reach 64,000 tests per day.
The Kazakh government instructed the state-owned SK-Pharmacia LLP to purchase a 2 month supply of medicine, taking into account the need to supply drugs through retail to the public for home treatment.
To provide outpatient care to the countryside, the Ministry of Health created 1,493 mobile teams, which covers 94% of overall need, with 641 ambulances working to provide medical care. The government ordered local governments and ministries of health to provide the regions with the necessary number of ventilators by the end of August.
It also instructed the ministries of industry, health, and finance to resolve the issue of equipping the regions with mobile diagnostic equipment, transfer x-ray machines, and other medical supplies.
According to the Government, indicators of stability are clear in west Kazakhstan, in Almaty, Turkestan, Kostanay, Akmola, and Mangisatu regions. The capital Nur-Sultan is also having very positive developments with a recovery rate of 73% and the number of ambulances calls regarding Covid-19 decreasing by 10 times from an average of 500 calls a day to about 50 a day.
The Government said that the main task at the moment is to “Maintain the current trend with the establishment of quarantine measures as the peak of infectiousness has passed”.
“Taking into account the experience of other countries, the government of Kazakhstan introduced several exemptions for the population during the quarantine, including permission to walk in small groups, exercise outside, and visit cafés and restaurants that operate outside,” it said.
Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Askar Mamin warned that the alarming situation in the world persists and a surge of Covid-19 cases has been recorded in 126 countries.
“Although the Ministry of Health has developed a plan for the phased lifting of quarantine measures, the government also notes that in case of signs of a worsening epidemiological situation, additional restrictive measures may be taken.”, he said.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Health in Kazakhstan said it is actively working on the production of a Kazakh Vaccine against Covid-19.
The Kazakh vaccine has successfully passed preclinical trials in mice, pigs, and macaques. While a number of researchers from the Biological Safety Research Institute have volunteered to test the vaccine on themselves.
The Ministry said that to date, five volunteers who have injected themselves with the vaccine do not have any alarming symptoms, such as allergies, fever, or deterioration in well-being. Pre-clinical trials will end on August 20, and the data will be obtained by the Ministry of Health.
The Ministry of Health has selected 44 volunteers who were not previously infected with Covid-19 and therefore do not possess antibodies. In September, with the permission of the Ministry of Health, the first stage of human clinical trials will be launched. The second phase of the trials will involve testing the vaccine on more people. About 200 people have volunteered to retest the vaccine between October and December of this year.
These studies are planned to be carried out at the Almaty clinics. “The next step on the road to vaccinating citizens against the threat of Covid-19 will be the establishment of a manufacturing factory for the production of immunobiological drugs at the Research Institute of Biological Safety in the Zhambyl region.”. This factory will produce up to 60 million doses of vaccines that will appear on the domestic market annually.
At the same time, Kazakhstan is not relying solely on the creation of its vaccine. According to the meeting of the Interdepartmental Commission, the Ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs are actively involved in concluding preliminary contracts for the purchase of a Covid-19 vaccine.
At the moment, the departments are establishing the groups of people to be vaccinated, calculating the likely financial costs, and calculating the possibility of Kazakhstan's participation in the COVAX Facility program. Participation in this program provides the opportunity to gain access to a range of potential vaccines for Covid-19.