Palestinian Authority push back vaccine rollout over delivery delay

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The Palestinian Authority said Monday it had pushed back the rollout of its coronavirus vaccination campaign due to a delay in deliveries.

The PA had said it was anticipating a shipment by the middle of this month, enabling it to start vaccinations for the general public in the occupied West Bank while sharing stock with Hamas, the Islamists who control Gaza.

“There has been a delay in the arrival of the vaccine,” Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said ahead of a weekly cabinet meeting, without providing further details.

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He said the launch of vaccinations for the general public would be announced “at a later time,” when sufficient supplies arrive.

The Palestinian Authority is expecting some two million doses ordered from various manufacturers, in addition to vaccines from the UN-backed Covax program, set up to help less wealthy nations procure vaccines.

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It began vaccinating frontline healthcare workers earlier this month with an initial procurement of 10,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine as well as several thousand doses of the Moderna product via Israel.

Israel, which is carrying out one of the world’s fastest vaccination campaigns per capita, has faced international calls to share its stocks with Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Israeli-blocked Gaza.

The PA has registered nearly 115,000 coronavirus cases in the West Bank, including nearly 1,400 deaths, while Hamas has recorded nearly 53,600 cases in Gaza, including 537 deaths.

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