The Palestinian Authority said on Tuesday that the first shipment of covid vaccines – which had been expected “within days” – had been delayed until mid-February for “technical reasons”. Last week, the PA health ministry granted emergency approval for the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine. It is one of four providers with which the PA has signed contracts. Israel has already approved Ramallah’s request for the shipment of an initial 5,000 doses to enter the West Bank via the Allenby Crossing. The PA said in December it would receive 4 million doses of the Sputnik vaccine in all. The PA, which has responsibility for healthcare under the Oslo Accords, says it expects to have sufficient doses to vaccinate 70 percent of the population of the West Bank and Gaza by mid-March. Israel’s prison service also announced on Sunday that it was beginning to vaccinate all prisoners, including an estimated 4,400 Palestinians held in its jails. Health minister Yuli Edelstein said last week that the first doses would begin arriving in prisons within days.
The developments came as the Israeli government ordered the country’s four health maintenance organisations to begin vaccinating all those over the age of 40. As of Tuesday morning, 2.19 million Israelis have received their first dose of the vaccine and 423,000 have received the second dose. Israel continues to outpace the world in the number of vaccines doses administered per 100,000 people. More than 30 percent of Israelis have now been vaccinated, with the UAE close to 20 percent. The UK is on 6.65 percent and the US on 3.71 percent. Edelstein said on Tuesday that Israel now aims to inoculate 250,000 people per day.
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