Israel to give Palestinians 1.2 million COVID vaccines in coming days – report

Israel plans to transfer some 1.2 million Pfizer vaccines to Palestinians in the coming days to help them with their coronavirus vaccination campaign, the Haaretz news site reported Thursday.

The move was decided at a meeting Thursday between new Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and senior health ministry officials and comes after Israel faced months of intense criticism from health groups. advocacy and health professionals for failing to help the Palestinians.

The report said the decision to provide the vaccines was made by the previous government under Benjamin Netanyahu, but that there was no follow-up.

The report said the vaccines would take the form of a “loan”, with Israel giving Ramallah doses of its Pfizer vaccine stockpile, in the hope that they would be restocked with the doses ordered by the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is expected to make an official announcement in the coming days, with the transfer being coordinated with the ministries of health and defense, according to the report.

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Health ministry director general Chezy Levy last month urged Israel to help vaccinate Palestinians, saying failure to do so risks undermining the gains of Israel’s own vaccination campaign.

“We need to help the Palestinians and quickly assist their vaccination program as it can affect morbidity here among us,” Levy said, speaking to public broadcaster Kan.

“We have to donate or sell our stocks of vaccines that we have, or help them find vaccines,” he said.

“As soon as a [government] decision is made, we will do it quickly, ”he said.

The Director General of the Ministry of Health, Professor Chezy Levy, speaks at a press conference on the coronavirus, in Jerusalem on June 21, 2020 (Flash90)

Levy also said Israel should demand that Palestinians entering Israel for medical treatment first test negative for the virus.

As Israel has launched a vaccination campaign that beats the world, the Palestinian Authority is struggling to vaccinate its people.

According to the Palestinian Authority’s health ministry, this week 436,275 people received at least one dose, of which 260,000 received both doses.

These figures include the more than 100,000 Palestinian workers vaccinated by Israel since March, as they come into regular contact with Israelis in the workplace.

It also includes some 52,000 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who have been vaccinated.

Israel has so far refrained from launching a campaign to vaccinate the general Palestinian population, despite appeals from Israeli nonprofits, a petition to the High Court of Justice and exhortations from experts in the health to do so.

Israel has maintained that under the Oslo accords, Palestinians are responsible for vaccinations in the West Bank. Gaza, meanwhile, is controlled by the terrorist group Hamas.

Related: Israel Could Launch Millions of Vaccines. Why doesn’t he give them to the Palestinian Authority instead?

The Palestinian Authority has started receiving vaccines through COVAX, a global immunization program for poor and middle-income countries supported by the World Health Organization. The program aims to provide enough free doses to immunize up to 20 percent of the population of a participating country; around 90 countries have joined the program.

Doses so far received by the Palestinian Authority for use in the West Bank to date include 100,000 from China and 58,000 from Russia. Most of the rest were doses of AstraZeneca sent by COVAX.

Israel also donated 5,000 doses of Moderna and 200 doses of Pfizer to Palestinian medical personnel.

The Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip has so far received 111,000 doses, including 50,000 of COVAX, 60,000 doses of Russian Sputnik V from the United Arab Emirates and 1,000 doses of Sputnik V from the Palestinian Authority.

Palestinian workers wait to be vaccinated by Magen David Adom staff at the Sha’ar Efraim checkpoint in the West Bank, March 4, 2021 (COGAT)

COVAX intends to eventually deliver about 400,000 AstraZeneca injections to Palestinians, according to UNICEF.

Palestinians suffered their worst wave of COVID-19 in March and April, which peaked at nearly 3,000 new cases per day. However, following a strict lockdown, the numbers have fallen to some 250 cases per day.

Although the security fence separates most of the West Bank from Israel, and there is a near-tight barrier between Israel and Gaza, the entire region is seen as an epidemiological unit.

For example, the travel health section of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists “Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza.” Because Israel and the territories are grouped together, the US State Department in April included Israel among 116 countries on its “Level Four: Do Not Travel” advisory list, citing an “unprecedented” risk due to a “very high level.” high COVID-19. “

This happened despite Israel lifting almost all of its virus restrictions, and in recent days even the indoor mask mandate as well.

People shop at the Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv on June 14, 2021, after the health ministry announced the end of the requirement to wear a mask in closed public places. (Miriam Alster / Flash90)

Israel’s mass vaccination campaign, which has already delivered both vaccines to more than half of the population, along with lockdown measures, has lowered the number of new daily cases (based on an average weekly), from 8,600 at the height of the health crisis to just 13 on Wednesday.

At the height of the pandemic, there were 88,000 active cases in the country and 1,228 severe cases; As of Thursday, there were 248 active infections and 24 people in serious condition.

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