The Gaza Strip received its first shipment of vaccines for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on Wednesday, after Israel approved the transfer through its shared-border with the Islamist Hamas-run territory, Palestinian media reported.
The shipment, sent by the Palestinian Authority from the occupied West Bank, included 2,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, enough to inoculate 1,000 people in a two-shot regimen.
“We will use the doses to vaccinate patients who had organ transplants and those who suffer kidney failure,” Majdi Dhair, a Gaza Health Ministry official, told Reuters, adding, “Medical personnel will not be vaccinated this time as the shipment is not enough.”
Officials in the Palestinian Authority said they submitted the vaccine transfer request to Israeli defence authorities soon after receiving an initial shipment of 10,000 Russian doses in the West Bank on 4 February.
The delay highlights the challenges Palestinians face in inoculating citizens across the West Bank and Gaza, two geographically-divided areas which are home to 5.2 million Palestinians.
Israel controls all entry and exit points to the West Bank and most of the coastal and land boundaries of the Gaza Strip, an enclave that Israeli troops and settlers left in 2005.