RAMALLAH, Thursday, March 11, 2021 (WAFA) – Minister of Health Mai Alkaila today urged the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative to reconsider its policy of vaccine distribution and way of handling the Palestine share of the available vaccines.
Speaking at a virtual meeting of the World Health Organization's regional office to discuss the distribution of the coronavirus vaccines in the countries of the region, Alkaila said Palestine was supposed to secure the first doses of the vaccine through COVAX mechanism during the second half of last February. She said however, COVAX went back on its commitment and delayed the first shipment of the badly needed vaccine to next May, and that it reduced the amount to 168 thousand instead of 240 thousand doses as promised before.
Alkaila explained that Palestine has reached out to the WHO Director-General for the Eastern Mediterranean Region Ahmed Al-Mandhari to pressure for securing vaccines to Palestine as quickly as possible. As a result, she said, Palestine received a message that 24 thousand doses of AstraZeneca vaccine would urgently be sent out to Palestine in March, which still did not happen yet.
The health minister urged the WHO and the UNICEF to exert pressure on COVAX to go back on its delay and reduction policy and to fulfill its promise of making vaccines available to Palestine as soon as possible.
She pointed out that any further delays in the vaccine arrival means more suffering for the Palestinian health sector and more economic crises in the country, already deteriorated by the pandemic.
Alkaila stressed that Palestine was one of the first countries to fulfill the requirements related to vaccine distribution, storing and rollout.
COVAX is a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines led by UNICEF, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and others.