Report in August 2021

Covid-19 situation in Kazakhstan

Laura Aubekerova,
Kazakh Agrarian National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan

1. Report from Almaty city, Republic of Kazakhstan, Central Asia.

2. Covid-19 statistics in Kazakhstan:

  1. а) Total confirmed 754,891 cases as of 23.08.2021.
  2. b) Newly confirmed cases on that day – 428,
  3. c) Active cases on that date –124,871
  4. d) Cases in ICU - 262
  5. e) Total death cases - 8,643
  6. f) New death cases on that day – 131.

3. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses have been forced to work with significant restrictions, which causes significant damage to the income of business activities. Many business entities (bowling alleys, billiard rooms, karaoke, computer clubs, etc.) still cannot resume their activities. As an alternative to the complete closure of the above-mentioned businesses and for the partial lifting of restrictions, the pilot project "Ashyq" was launched. It determines the status of the visitor: whether he is currently a carrier of the virus or not. The "Ashyq" application were used in a number of fitness clubs, spa centers, saunas and other facilities where there is a reception.

Activities allowed without "Ashyq" includes:

  1. 1) carrying out construction works
  2. 2) activities of industrial enterprises
  3. 3) provision of contactless services (car washes, repair of cars, household appliances, watches, phones, computers, shoes, sewing ateliers, laundries, dry cleaning, key making, services on the principle of home life, etc.), flower shops, photo salons
  4. 4) the activities of travel companies, certain types of activities in business centers: (insurance companies, lawyer, notary, accountant and consulting services, real estate agencies, advertising agencies, bailiffs, exchange offices, pawnshops, etc.)
  5. 5) the activities of public catering facilities only for takeaway and delivery.

On weekdays, the activities of subjects participating in "Ashyq" will be limited to until 20:00 or 22:00 hour, but if they are not crowded, they could be extended to 24:00 hour.

4. To support the economy, the government developed a package of anti-crisis measures, which included preferential lending to businesses, tax exemption in the affected sectors of the economy, the launch of an employment roadmap, and payments of benefits to citizens left without earnings. Two packages of operational anti-crisis measures were adopted. More than 4.5 million Kazakhstanis who temporarily lost their income received assistance in the amount of 42,500 tenge. More than a million people received food and household kits.

5. The Interdepartmental Commission for Preventing the Spread of coronavirus infection in the Territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan on July 27, 2021 this year decided to strengthen quarantine measures in some cities, due to the fact that these cities account for 65% of the daily incidence and 55% of the daily mortality in the country.

  • suspension of the activities of all enterprises and organizations not participating in the Ashyq project, with the exception of central government agencies, akimats (local authority), law enforcement agencies, healthcare organizations, mass media, grocery stores, pharmacies and life support organizations;
  • a ban on holding entertainment, sports, family, commemorative and other mass events;
  • transfer to remote work of 80% of employees of state bodies, offices, National companies and other organizations (with the exception of those who have been vaccinated and who have been ill within the last 3 months).

The purchase of essential goods was observed in the first months of the quarantine of 2020, this year there are no such large purchases. People primarily bought products such as flour, pasta, rice, sunflower oil and canned food.

6. Mobile groups that detect violations are working all over the country. To detect violations in the capital and the regions, daily raids are carried out to comply with sanitary and quarantine standards. They check markets, cafes, offices, shops, etc. For non-compliance with sanitary rules, violation of social distancing, violation of the requirements for the mandatory use of masks, and others, individuals and entrepreneurs can be fined during the pandemic. The fine for individuals is 30 Monthly calculation index (MCI) (Equivalent to 83,340 tenge) US$195.58; the fine for small businesses is 230 MCI (638,940 tenge) US$1499.42; medium-sized businesses - 310 MCI (861,180 tenge) US$2020.96; large businesses-1,600 MCI (4,444,800 tenge) US$10430.77. The amount of fines varies depending on the level of quarantine offended. MCI is used for calculating benefits and other social benefits, as well as the application of penalties, taxes, and other payments in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan. One MCI is equivalent to 2778 tenge.

7. Taking a smear from the nasopharynx is carried out according to the WHO Interim Recommendations "Diagnostic testing for the determination of the SARS-CoV-2 virus" dated September 11, 2020. ELISA testing is carried out for the purpose of epidemiological surveillance during a serological-epidemiological study to determine collective immunity to the new COVID-19 coronavirus infection in accordance with the study protocol. Testing for COVID-19 by PCR of WHO-validated patients is carried out in the direction of a medical organization or a territorial division of the Department of the Sanitary and Epidemiological Control Committee.

In some cases, PCR testing is done for free, and for those leaving the country or in other cases, testing is paid, it is about 7000-8000tenge ($16.43- 18.77).

8. In Kazakhstan, vaccination is completely free and voluntary. Now, four vaccines are approved for use: From February 1, 2021, the Russian-developed Gam-COVID-VAC "Sputnik V", from February 15, the Kazakh Gam-COVID-Vac "QazVac drug", produced at the plant in Karaganda, also the Hayat-Vax vaccine produced in the UAE by the Chinese company Sinopharm, the CoronaVac drug produced by the Chinese company Sinovac Biotech. The World Health Organization (WHO) approves two of them, the Sinopharm vaccine and Sinovac Biotech. Sputnik V and QazVac are mainly used in Kazakhstan.

Vaccination is carried out in stages, taking into account the recipient of the vaccine. At the same time, first of all, vulnerable groups of the population who are at high risk of infection and spread of coronavirus infection are subject to vaccination against coronavirus infection, followed by further coverage of the remaining groups of the population.

Currently, an agreement has been reached with the manufacturers of vaccines against coronavirus infection, Pfizer (USA). The delivery of the American Pfizer vaccine is expected in October. According to the Ministry of Health, as of August 23, 2021, 6,369,263 people were vaccinated with the first dose, 5,013,064 people had received the second dose.

9. Ginger and lemon, sauerkraut, horseradish, wormwood, harmala (Peganum harmala), kazy (a traditional sausage-like food) and kumys, mutton tail fat, garlic and other remedies are used by people as remedies for Covid 19. The most popular mix today is a mixture of ginger and lemon. Another subject of numerous studies is kumys, a fermented milk drink, usually made from mare's milk. It has been scientifically confirmed that the liquid, which is enriched with vitamins and trace elements, has a beneficial effect on the body, helps to strengthen the immune system and get rid of many ailments. Volunteers actively supplied the medicinal drink to the wards of infectious diseases hospitals. Mutton tail fat is experiencing a peak of popularity this summer. People consider it a good remedy for the treatment of pneumonia. Mutton tail fat is bought in large quantities, despite the fact that it has doubled in price on the shelves. These drugs do not actually treat the virus, they only support the immune system, help with rehabilitation after the disease.

10. From the very beginning of the epidemic, big business in the country began to allocate funds against the fight against Covid 19. Business helped the country not only with money, they allocated cars, provided medical workers with free communication and the Internet, wrote off mobile communication fees from pensioners, bought masks, gloves, pulse oximeters, oxygen ventilators, rapid tests, food and much more. Assistance was also received from abroad, such organizations as the European Union, the CDC. Kazakhstani volunteers in the fight against coronavirus provided effective support. They organized free English courses for students, translated and published scientific papers from all over the world for free, monitored medical institutions, delivered food to medical workers, distributed humanitarian aid, and so on. Largely thanks to the selfless work of volunteers, the country managed to cope with the hardest summer months of 2020.

11. People who were engaged in trade and business were left without work for some time. This created financial problems.

From the very first days, training in the new format revealed problems associated with the low level of digitalization of the industry. Not everyone had access to high-quality Internet, as well as the equipment necessary for studying. At this time, the educational system of Kazakhstan is forced to develop distance education more actively.

The pandemic has exposed chronic health problems, including a shortage of professional personnel and low equipment of hospitals. Despite the fact that preparations for the epidemic in Kazakhstan has been conducted since January, in the spring there was a shortage of personal protective equipment both in hospitals and in pharmacies. Moreover, later, during the peak period, which came in July, Kazakhstanis faced an acute shortage of medicines and PCR tests; hospitals were overcrowded, and ambulances did not have time to serve all calls....

Among the good consequences, we can highlight the improvement of the environment in some cities of Kazakhstan, due to the reduction of cars on the roads, but as soon as the strict quarantine ended, the urban smog returned to major cities.

12. There are 2 different types of vaccine in Kazakhstan.

The first domestic vaccine produced in Kazakhstan was the whole virion SARS-CoV-2 virus cultivated in VERO cell culture, inactivated by formaldehyde, followed by passing of the fourth degree of purification and the addition of aluminium hydroxide immunostimulant/adjuvant. This vaccine is now being used in Kazakhstan. QazCovid-in® :COVID-19 inactivated vaccine

Later, another vaccine against Covid-19 was being developed in Kazakhstan, the "QazVac", which is a subunit vaccine produced by incorporating Recombinant plasmid DNA pET / RBD, pET / N, into strains of bacteria Escherichia coli ER2566 to produce recombinant proteins RBD (receptor binding domain of protein S) and N (nucleocapsid protein) of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. These proteins are then used to produce the vaccine. This vaccine is in the process of being approved.

Photo 1 - The "Ashyq" application, organized for the control of infected and contacted patients with Covid 19.
Photo 2 - The place for vaccination, organized in a shopping and entertainment center.
Photo 3 - Shopping center visitors using the "Ashyq" application at the entrance.
Photo 4 - People dining at a public place