Israel gives green light to shipment of a thousand doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine
The first batch is expected today following an agreement between Mahmoud Abbas and Vladimir Putin. Medical staff in the Gaza Strip will be the first to be vaccinated. Logistical problems hinder the use of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Source tells AsiaNews that the amount is very small compared to the population.
Gaza (AsiaNews) – Gaza’s first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine, comprising 1,000 doses, was en route to the territory from the occupied West Bank on Wednesday after Israel approved the transfer, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.
This is the first stage in the immunisation campaign in Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, which is a virtual open-air prison with about two million inhabitants. So far the Palestinian territory has reported 53,000 coronavirus cases with 538 deaths.
Palestinian officials said the shipment would include enough doses to inoculate 1,000 people.
Shipment, via Israel, of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine by the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank to Gaza had drawn criticism from right-wing Israeli politicians.
Earlier this month Israel shipped 5,000 doses to Palestinians, to immunise at least some of the medical staff who are fighting the pandemic every day.
Israel’s decision not to include Palestinians in its mass vaccination plan sparked controversy over who had ultimate responsibility for the Palestinian population in the occupied territories under international law.
A source in the Strip told AsiaNews that "vaccination in Gaza has yet to start", also because "at least 2,000 doses were unofficially expected.”
Gazans will not get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which the Israeli government bought for its own immunisation campaign.
"This vaccine is not the one used in Israel. It comes from Russia, after [Palestinian President] Mahmoud Abbas directly worked out a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin,” the source said
Politics aside, the conservation of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine needs special cold rooms at minus 70-80 centigrade. This is a major issue in the Strip where power cuts can last hours. The same it the case for the m-RNA vaccine, by Moderna.
According to government sources in the West Bank, Moscow donated about 10,000 doses of Sputnik V, one thousand for the medical staff in Gaza.
In Israel some right-wing parties wanted to stop the shipment until Hamas released Israeli civilians it holds, and returned the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, which it has had since 2014.