PA receives first COVAX vaccine shipment with 60,000 doses

About a third of the vaccine shipment will be transferred to the Gaza Strip later today.

A Palestinian health worker prepares a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in Gaza City February 22, 2021.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
A Palestinian health worker prepares a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in Gaza City February 22, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority received 60,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses on Wednesday, its largest single allocation to date and its first shipment of the inoculations through a World Health Organization donor program known as COVAX (COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access).
COVAX is expected to provide enough COVID-19 vaccine doses over the course of this year for a million Palestinians, the equivalent of 20% of its population, as part of its goal of ensuring that 20% of the global population in poor and middle income countries are inoculated against the coronavirus.
The shipment that arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport this morning included 37,000 doses of Pfizer and 23,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines.
The Unit for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) is facilitating the transfer of 40,000 doses to the Palestinian Authority through the Betunia Crossing. An additional 20,000 vaccines were to be transferred later Wednesday to the Gaza Strip.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland said he was “happy to welcome the arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines in Palestine, via the COVAX Facility,” through a partnership that also included the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; and UNICEF.
“Those vaccines being sent to the West Bank and Gaza will be critical tools in our fight against the pandemic and for socioeconomic recovery,” he said. “The UN, through its good offices, will continue to support the Government of Palestine [sic] in accessing vaccines via the COVAX facility so that it can fully implement its national vaccination campaign,” Wennesland said.
He also thanked Israel for coordinating the transfer of the vaccines.
The Palestinian Authority is just in the fledgling stages of its vaccination program. According to a WHO report published last Thursday, only 9,646 Palestinians have been vaccinated through Palestinian health services in the West Bank and Gaza.
The largest vaccination drive to date for Palestinians has been conducted by Israel, which plans to inoculate with the Moderna vaccine 120,000 workers employed within sovereign Israel or in West Bank settlements.
To date, some 90,000 of those Palestinians have been vaccinated with their first dose through a program organized by COGAT, the Health Ministry and Magen David Adom.
In addition Israel has donated 5,000 Moderna vaccines to the PA for Palestinians in the West Bank. The United Arab Emirates has sent 60,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik vaccine to Gaza, of which 40,000 were transferred on Friday and 20,000 were sent to Gaza last month.
Russia separately donated 10,000 of its Sputnik vaccines to the PA.
The PA is expected to receive a shipment of 100,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine later this month.