Syria’s rebel-held northwest will receive its first shipment of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

Beirut, Feb 23 (AFP/APP): Syria’s rebel-held northwest will receive its first shipment of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine by the end of next month, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

The doses were procured through the UN body’s Covax programme, which aims to provide equitable worldwide access to vaccines against Covid-19. Thirty-five to 40 percent of the vaccines would be made available in the first quarter of 2021, and 60 to 65 percent in the second quarter, a WHO spokesperson told AFP. The health directorate for the opposition-held territory said it expected to receive 120,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by next month. “They will cover 60,000 people,” starting with front-line health workers, the elderly and chronically ill people, said its spokesman Imad Zahran.

Syria’s northwest, much of which is controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, is home to some four million people, including 2.8 million in need of urgent assistance. HTS is an alliance dominated by ex-members of Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate. Rights groups fear crowded displacement camps in the area could be especially conducive to a critical coronavirus outbreak.

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