Palestinians desperately await Covid-19 vaccine
A healthcare worker checks the temperature of a woman in Gaza City.
Al Jazeera :
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a coronavirus vaccine jab on December 19, kicking off a national roll-out that has made Israel the world's Covid-19 vaccination drive leader.
But while Israel's vaccination campaign even includes Jewish settlers living deep inside the illegally occupied West Bank, it will exclude the nearly five million Palestinians living under occupation there or in the blockaded Gaza Strip.
They will have to wait for the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority (PA), which administers parts of the West Bank under interim peace agreements signed in the 1990s, to provide the jabs.
The Palestinian health ministry expects the first batches of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to arrive in the occupied West Bank and Gaza at the beginning of March, more than two months after Israel began its roll-out.
"We have just signed a deal with AstraZeneca to get two million doses," May al-Kaila, the Palestinian health minister, told Al Jazeera.
The two million doses from Oxford-AstraZeneca would only be enough to inoculate one million people.
The vaccination is going to be free of charge and voluntary. Each dose will cost the PA about $5, making the deal worth about $10m.
More than 148,100 Palestinians have so far tested positive for coronavirus, and more than 1,610 Covid19 related deaths have been reported in the West Bank and Gaza since the start of the pandemic.
But with infections surging, many Palestinians living in the occupied territories cannot afford to wait until March. New daily infections in the West Bank and Gaza have consistently surpassed 1,000 in the past month. In the second half of December, the number of daily detected cases averaged almost 1,500 - a threefold increase from July 2020.