The Palestinian Authority began its Covid-19 vaccination campaign yesterday, starting with medical workers treating coronavirus patients, PA Minister of Health Mai Al-Kaila has announced.
The move follows concerns raised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) about the disparity between Israelis and Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. International human rights groups and UN officials have called out Israel for its responsibility for the Palestinians as an occupying power under international law.
Following the global pressure, Israel's defence ministry announced on Monday that it has transferred 2,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to the PA and said that it has earmarked another 3,000 doses for the Palestinians. Al-Kaila received the vaccine at Hugo Chavez Hospital in Ramallah. Medical staff working in the intensive care units were then vaccinated.
"This campaign will be completed with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, as 5,000 doses will arrive in Palestine within days, in addition to 37,000 doses under the COVAX initiative," explained Al-Kaila. "The Palestinian government has also purchased the British AstraZeneca vaccine, and it will arrive in the country shortly." COVAX is a global scheme backed by the WHO to provide vaccines to poorer countries.
As of yesterday evening, the number of coronavirus cases in Palestine totalled 180,018, including 2,032 deaths and 169,191 recovered patients. The figures cover the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, reported Wafa news agency.