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Palestinians approve Russian COVID-19 vaccine for use in self-rule areas

January 11, 2021 at 7:45 pm

A nurse shows a box containing the first dose of ‘Gam-COVID-Vac’ also known as Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus on December 29, 2020 [Marcos Brindicci/Getty Images]

The health ministry of the Palestinian Authority (PA) has approved the main Russian vaccine against COVID-19, known as Sputnik V, for use in Palestinian self-ruled territory, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund said on Monday, reports Reuters.

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Palestinian Health Minister Mai Alkaila confirmed that her ministry had granted “emergency approval” for the Russian vaccine to be administered in areas under limited Palestinian self-rule.

Deliveries are expected to be completed in the first quarter of this year, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is responsible for marketing the vaccine abroad.

The RDIF did not say how many doses would be shipped to the PA, which runs parts of the West Bank under interim peace deals with Israel, but said supplies would come from manufacturing partners in India, China, South Korea, and elsewhere.

It also did not disclose the financial arrangements of the export deal but has said previously that Sputnik V would be priced at less than $20 per dose. The price includes the first shot and the booster, which is injected 21 days later.

The PA said later it was allocating $10.5 million as a down-payment for the first stage of vaccination, to arrive within two months. The final cost will be $21 million, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh’s office said in a statement.

READ: Israel rejects WHO’s request to provide Palestine medics covid vaccines

Asked if Israel would permit the Palestinians to import the vaccines, Deputy Israeli Health Minister Yoav Kisch told Army Radio: “Anything to do with Palestinian Authority public health is taken care of by them, (so) I think they have that freedom.”

The PA said on Sunday it expected to receive its first COVID-19 vaccine doses from British drugmaker AstraZeneca in March, and accused Israel of shirking a duty to ensure vaccines are available in occupied territory.

While Israel has become the world leader in vaccinations per capita, Palestinians in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip – where Hamas Islamists rule – have yet to obtain their first supplies.

Outside Russia, where authorities say over a million people have now been inoculated with Sputnik V, the vaccine has also been approved for emergency use by local regulators in Algeria, Argentina, Bolivia, and Serbia, RDIF has said.