First batch of COVID-19 vaccines lands in opposition-held Syria - GulfToday

First batch of COVID-19 vaccines lands in opposition-held Syria


Volunteers unload the first batch of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines at Bab Al Hawa border crossing between Syria and Turkey in rebel-held northwestern Idlib on Wednesday. AFP

Syria's last rebel-held enclave received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines Wednesday, with a refrigerated truck offloading over 50,000 United Nations-secured jabs in the overcrowded province.

The delivery came hours before a bigger shipment was expected to arrive in the capital Damascus for inoculations in government-controlled areas.

The first batch of vaccines comes as the war-torn country experiences a new surge in infections, overwhelming hospitals already reeling from conflict and deteriorating health care services.

The AstraZeneca vaccines were delivered to rebel-controlled Idlib province through a border crossing with Turkey, the northwestern territory's only gateway to the outside world.

Idlib health official Yasser Najib said 53,800 jabs were provided through the UN-led COVAX programme for the world's poorest nations.

Given Syria’s ongoing conflict, vaccine delivery is divided - the majority going through Damascus for government-held areas and the rest through the border with Turkey.

The UN will go through Damascus to deliver over 200,000 jabs to cover government-held areas and Kurdish-dominated territory in the northeast.

The rebel-held region, home to 4 million people, is seeing a new rise in infections.

The area houses over 2 million displaced persons who live in tent camps and temporary housing.

While fighting has largely subsided, occasional military operations still violate a cease-fire that has been in place since March 2020.


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