The Palestinian Authority has confirmed that it began vaccinating its medical staff on Tuesday after the shipment of 2,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine from Israel the previous day. However, the statement by the PA Ministry of Health – which said intensive care staff who “stand in the first line of defence and face the coronavirus directly” were being prioritised – declined to state where the vaccines had come from. Israel confirmed 2,000 doses were transferred to the PA on Monday and a further 3,000 doses had been earmarked. “It was a wonderful step because it is crucial to protect medical staff who are dealing with covid-19 patients from zero distance and are at risk of getting the infection,” said Bassil Bawatneh, director of Ramallah’s Hugo Chavez hospital, where the first inoculations were administered. The main Palestinian vaccination drive is expected to begin shortly with the PA health minister Mai Alkaila saying 5,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and 37,000 doses from the World Health Organisation’s COVAX programme, which is designed to assist low and middle-income countries, are due to arrive within days. People over the age of 60 and those with chronic illnesses will be prioritised in a programme to vaccinate the entire Palestinian population which is slated to last several months. A further 240,000-406,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are expected to arrive by late February via the COVAX programme. The PA has pledged that all of its vaccines will be shared equally with the Gaza Strip. “The vaccine is expected to arrive in the Gaza Strip in the immediate future. The expected quantity is around 15,000 doses, and health personnel, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses will be prioritised,” Hamas health official Majdi Dahir said. Just under 1,800 Palestinians have died from covid.

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