The Palestinian Authority has approved the Russian vaccine Sputnik V Covid-19 in an emergency, Health Minister Mai al-Kaila announced On Monday.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund, which financed Sputnik V, said a first batch of cans is expected to be delivered to the Palestinians in February. The organization did not say how many cans would be sent.
Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have not yet received any significant shipments of vaccine. In her statement, Ms al-Kaila said that health workers would be vaccinated first when a vaccine shipment arrives.
It wasn’t clear if a larger Sputnik V delivery would be the first to reach the areas. Ali Abed Rabbo, a senior health department official, said last week the Palestinians were hoping to receive two million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in February. Health officials are now saying they expect these doses to arrive in March.
The Palestinian Authority asked Israel in late December to provide it with up to 10,000 doses of vaccine to vaccinate frontline medical professionals. The Israelis rejected the request, however, according to Hussein al-Sheikh, the top Palestinian official in charge of coordination with Israel.
Israeli officials have said that vaccinating Palestinians is not their obligation or responsibility. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Palestinian Authority human rights groups argue that international law requires Israel to give doses to Palestinians living under occupation. Israeli officials have signaled that they can send doses to the Palestinian Authority once their own vaccination campaign is completed.
Israel has so far given enough vaccines to 20 percent of its population, the highest proportion of any country, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data.