1% of Middle East citizens have received first shot of COVID vaccine

Israel is part of the European report, so is not included in these numbers.

A logo is pictured on the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.  (photo credit: REUTERS/ DENIS BALIBOUSE)
A logo is pictured on the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
The World Health Organization declared on Monday that only 1% of the Middle East population has received the first shot of the coronavirus vaccine, but the report did not include Israel, currently considered to be the vaccination world's leader, the Agence France Press (AFP) reported.
“So far, more than 6.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given to people in 12 countries,” the Cairo-based WHO’s regional chief Ahmed al-Mandhari told AFP.
Israel is included in a separate European report and therefore is not included in these numbers.
The United Nations' body that released the data, WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMRO), comprises 21 member states and about 600 million people. The region is defined as covering from Morocco to Pakistan.
However, according to the body, Israel is not part of the Middle East region, while the West Bank and Gaza are.
Israel is so far the leading the world in terms of vaccinations per capita, with four millionth citizen who have received a first dose, of whom 2.6 million have received a second shot as the country celebrated the vaccination of its four millionth citizen on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Israel allowed 1,000 of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines to be transferred to the Gaza Strip through the Erez border crossing on Wednesday, following approval from the Defense Ministry.
Israel controls two of the three main crossings into Gaza, the commercial one at Kerem Shalom and the pedestrian one at Erez.
All vaccines slated for Gaza, would need approval from Israel to enter through either of those crossings. The vaccines transferred to Gaza on Wednesday came from a donation of 10,000 Sputnik vaccine doses from Russia.
The vaccines for the Palestinians are not the Pfizer or Modern vaccines which Israel purchased for its citizens. They are fragile, and require special refrigeration. Conditions in Gaza, where the electricity supply is limited and unstable, means that those vaccines are unsuitable for use there.
Mandhari did not name the 12 countries where people have been already vaccinated. But he said that vaccines distributed through the Covax program are due to reach Tunisia and the Palestinians in the coming weeks, the AFP reported.
The remaining countries in WHO’s region are expected to receive “an estimated 46 million to 56 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine… during the first half of this year,” Mandhari told AFP.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been more than six million confirmed cases of the virus across the EMRO region, including 140,000 deaths, Mandhari said.
Lahav Harkov, Tovah Lazaroff and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.