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Vaccination to start in Yemen yet is at the bottom of the ladder

A cargo plane carrying 360,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine arrived at Aden airport on Wednesday, after a health emergency was declared in the war-devastated country.

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COVAX, a joint alliance comprising of the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and UNICEF, and aiming to secure vaccinations for poor countries, announced that 360,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine as part of planned 1.9 million doses, arrived in Yemen. Speaking on the issue, the spokesperson for the internationally recognized Yemeni government’s health ministry said that the vaccination would be free and be distributed across the areas under the government’s control.

The ongoing war in the country has been a barrier to the struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic, including testing and reporting. Despite the fact that the Iranian-backed Houthi group, controlling a massive area, has not provided any data relating to the coronavirus cases, accessible data shows a rapid rise since mid-February. According to Yemen’s emergency coronavirus committee figures, 132 cases and 19 deaths were recorded on Tuesday. Until now, the number of confirmed cases and deaths have reached 4,100 and 864, respectively.

The aid groups and health practitioners have complained about the lack of adequate protective equipment as well as drugs and other medicals, which are crucial to fight against the virus. It was reported that COVID-19 patients at an isolation center in a hospital lay on temporary beds in tents next to oxygen bottles, heavily breathing. Pointing out the deficiencies, a doctor who is also the director of the isolation center, said that “We need more staff because the rise in cases is not normal. The center is overwhelmed. We need oxygen to expand intensive care across all provinces.”

Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF’s representative in Yemen, stated that the country would be able to reach the capacity to protect its citizens whose most at risk, including health workers, thanks to the vaccination campaign. It was reported that more vaccines would arrive in May.

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