Israel supplies first COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians

FILE PHOTO: Vials labelled "COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" are placed on dry ice in this illustration taken, December 5, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Israel said on Monday it had supplied the Palestinians with their first shipment of COVID-19 shots, totalling 2,000 doses of Moderna Inc’s vaccine.

The vaccines were transferred to the occupied West Bank and will be used by Palestinian Authority medical teams, according to a statement from COGAT, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed the delivery in a statement issued in the West Bank city of Ramallah, saying it will administer the doses to medical personnel who work at facilities where they treat COVID-19 patients.

“The second category of people who will get the doses of the vaccines are those above 60 years of age and those who suffer chronic diseases,” said the statement.

The ministry said it expected to get 50,000 more doses of vaccines in “the coming days”, but it didn’t disclose the source.

Israel has earmarked an additional 3,000 doses for the Palestinians, a COGAT official said.

Israel has emerged as a world leader in vaccinating its citizens. The Palestinian Authority has separately been trying to secure its own doses, and has ordered a batch of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

The Palestinians will also be receiving upwards of 35,000 to 40,000 vaccines from the COVAX global vaccine sharing programme in the coming weeks, a World Health Organization official said on Monday.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians seek the territory for an independent state they hope to set up in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

Reporting by Ali Sawafta and Nidal al-Mughrabi, additional reporting by Aidan Lewis in Cairo; editing by Nick Macfie, Giles Elgood and Jonathan Oatis