Sixty Thousand COVID Vaccines Land in Israel, en Route to Palestinians

COVID vaccines provided by WHO's COVAX initiative ■ Palestinian Health Minister says they will await WHO approval before using AstraZeneca shots

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Palestinians wait for a COVID vaccine in Gaza City, today
Palestinians wait for a COVID vaccine in Gaza City, todayCredit: Khalil Hamra,AP

60,000 vaccines from the World Health Organization's COVAX initiative, earmarked for the Palestinian Authority, arrived in Ben-Gurion International Airport on Wednesday morning.

The Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs are en route to the Beitunia crossing in the West Bank, facilitated by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

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Around 20,000 vaccines from the shipment will be transferred to Gaza later on Wednesday.

The World Health Organization set up COVAX along with the GAVI vaccine alliance to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccinations globally.

However, the Palestinian Authority's Health Minister, Dr. Mai al-Kaila, said on Wednesday that they will await World Health Organization approval before using their incoming doses of AstraZeneca vaccines.

The health ministry, al-Kaila told Palestinian radio, will instead utilize the Pfizer vaccine and the Russian Sputnik V jabs to finish inoculating the medical staff. The ministry will then move onto those with chronic diseases.

Several countries are deliberating whether to press ahead with using the AstraZeneca shot, or whether to suspend their inoculations based on reports of dangerous blood clots in a few recipients. A European regulator said on Tuesday there was “no indication” the shot was responsible for the phenomenon.

As coronavirus continues to ravage the West Bank, the health minister also noted that hospital occupancy is at 115 percent in Ramallah, Al-Bireh and Jericho, while 44 percent of patients in intensive care units are on ventilators.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority reported 1,891 new cases and 20 deaths in the West Bank, after a partial lockdown was announced earlier in the week.

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