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WHO says around 1% of Mideast — excluding Israel — has gotten a vaccine shot

6.3 million doses administered in Eastern Mediterranean Region’s population of 600 million; that doesn’t include Jewish state, which has inoculated 4 million

Iranian health worker Sara Gudarzi receives the COVID-19 vaccine as the country launches its inoculation campain, at the Imam Khomeini hospital in the capital Tehran, on February, 9, 2021 (ATTA KENARE / AFP)
Iranian health worker Sara Gudarzi receives the COVID-19 vaccine as the country launches its inoculation campain, at the Imam Khomeini hospital in the capital Tehran, on February, 9, 2021 (ATTA KENARE / AFP)

CAIROEgypt — The World Health Organization said Monday that only around one percent of the Middle East region’s population had received a first coronavirus vaccine shot, when not including Israel in the figures.

The UN body released its data for what it calls the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMRO) of nearly 600 million people, stretching from Morocco to Pakistan — but excluding Israel.

“So far, more than 6.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given to people in 12 countries,” Ahmed al-Mandhari, the Cairo-based WHO’s regional chief, told reporters.

WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMRO) comprises 21 member states and is home to some 583 million people.

But while it includes the West Bank and Gaza, it does not include Israel, the country leading the world in vaccinations per capita with its mass innoculation campaign.

Israel reports that 4 million people have received a first dose, of whom 2.6 million have received a second shot.

Mandhari did not name the 12 countries where people have been already vaccinated. But he said that vaccines distributed through the Covax program are due to reach Tunisia and the Palestinians in the coming weeks.

Tunisia is expected to receive around 37,000 doses, while 94,000 doses will go to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, he said, without specifying the brands.

The remaining countries in WHO’s region are due to receive “an estimated 46 million to 56 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine… during the first half of this year,” Mandhari said.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been more than six million confirmed cases of the virus across the EMRO region, including 140,000 deaths, Mandhari said.

According to Health Ministry figures released Monday, Israel has had 732,040 confirmed cases and 5,423 deaths.

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