Coronavirus vaccines were smuggled out of Israel to Ukraine and offered to the country's wealthy for an exorbitant price, according to reports in the Ukrainian media.
The Strana news website reported Wednesday that dozens of Ukraine's wealthy citizens have already received their first doses of the vaccine at the Mediland Clinic in Kiev.
One such recipient told the website that a man named Grisha was collecting the payment for the vaccines.
"Grisha works with someone called Roman Goldman, who presents himself as a senior medical doctor in Israel," he said, adding that the cash price set separately for each client.
He also said the clinic does not explain where the vaccines came from or how they are being stored. Israel currently only administers the vaccine made by Pfizer, which has to be stored at -70°C.
According to Ukraine media outlets, the clinic charges up to 3,000 euros per dose. The vaccine is only effective after two doses, imaker says.
Ukraine, which has registered more than 1 million COVID-19 infections and 19,357 deaths so far, has yet to approve any of the newly developed vaccines, though it signed a contract in December to buy 1.9 million doses of China’s Sinovac vaccine and the shots are expected to be delivered soon.
A former Ukrainian member of parliament, Mikhail Brodetsky, told Ynet that Goldman contacted wealthy Ukrainians directly by text.
He said the vaccines were transported from Israel last month, likely not having been declared to custom authorities, and entered Ukraine with the help of a passport belonging to a member of parliament, through a VIP lounge used for dignitaries.
Brodetsky also claimed that the Ukraine Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal visited the clinic, allegedly in order to receive the vaccine, and other members of parliament had done the same.
Brodetsky did not provide any evidence to support his claim but slammed "people in power" who had failed to secure vaccines for the Ukrainian people but were willing to pay 100 times the cost of vaccines in Europe to preserve their own health.
Shmyhal said Wednesday that Ukrainian police and health officials were investigating the reports.
“None of the vaccines are currently certified in Ukraine. And I’m sure no rational person would get vaccinated with drugs of unknown origin,” he said.
Brodesky published a photograph in his blog showing Roman Goldman with the head of the parliamentary medical committee, Mikhail Rudetsky, and accused the latter of participating in the venture.
He also supplied Ynet with a copy of a letter he had already sent to the authorities in Israel requesting that they investigate how Goldman managed to obtain the vaccines and transport them to Ukraine, and who had helped him.
Goldman is known in Ukraine for his work promoting medical tourism to Israel and is seen as being well-connected in the Israeli business world.