DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) – The Syrian government said on Saturday that the Syrian government received the first batch of Chinese COVID-19 vaccine, which received a gift of 150,000 blows to Damascus.
The Chinese vaccines arrived at Damascus airport, where they were received by Syrian Health Minister Hassan Hab Abbas, China’s ambassador to Damascus.
The Chinese batch comes in a few days with more than 200,000 strikes from Syria through a UN-led platform that provides vaccines to those in need.
The new shocks are likely to accelerate the vaccination campaign in a war-torn country where the healthcare sector is plagued by epidemics and where infections are on the rise.
Syria was the last country in the Middle East և North Africa to receive UN-sponsored drilling, the first batch to arrive this week.
UN officials say the numbers are limited, and more funding has been sought for vaccines to prevent the virus from spreading in a country plagued by years of conflict and growing economic hardship.
The UN-provided AstraZeneca vaccine arrived on Wednesday և Thursday. They were part of a UN-led campaign to vaccinate 20% of the country’s population by the end of the year. Frontline workers, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses were at the forefront.
The Syrian government has reported nearly 22,000 cases of infection, including more than 1,500 deaths in areas under its control.
Hab abbash said that China is supporting Syria during the epidemic, first with medical and technical expertise, and now with Chinese Sinopharm vaccines.
“We appreciate this support, which will enable the Ministry of Health to fight the spread of this epidemic, to limit its health, social and economic impact, especially during the difficult times that Syria is going through,” Habbash told a news conference.
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. A second batch of 150,000 Chinese vaccines is expected to arrive in Syria soon, said Chinese Ambassador Feng Biao.
A small number of vaccines, the source of which was unknown, arrived in Damascus in February and were used to vaccinate health workers, who work mainly in government-controlled areas. Last week, the United Arab Emirates also donated an unspecified batch of vaccines to the Syrian government.
In war-torn Syria, the government controls about two-thirds of the territory, with the rest held by Kurdish opposition fighters. Millions have fled the country or been displaced, and the war has killed about half a million people out of a pre-war population of 23 million.
Another UN vaccine package, about 53,800 strokes, arrived Wednesday in the last enclave controlled by Syrian rebels from neighboring Turkey. The first vaccination campaign is scheduled to begin on May 1 in the area of about 4 million people.
More than 21,000 infections and more than 640 deaths have been reported in rebel-held northwestern Syria, while 14,400 cases have been reported in Kurdish areas in the northeast, including 477 deaths.