Northwest Syria receives Covid-19 vaccines amid Delta variant surge

Northwest Syria receives Covid-19 vaccines amid Delta variant surge
COVAX has delivered over 358,000 doses to northwest Syria, but the country is still far from the international vaccine coalition's target of immunising 20 percent of the population by the end of 2021.
2 min read
07 September, 2021
Over 90 low and middle income countries are eligible for the COVAX scheme [Getty]

Opposition northwest Syria received its largest delivery of Covid-19 vaccines to date from international coalition COVAX amid a surge in Delta variant cases.  

Over 358,000 doses were delivered across the Syrian-Turkish border on 3 September, seven days ahead of schedule with the help of WHO, UNICEF, and the Syrian Immunisation Group. 

"The new batch of the Sinovac Corona vaccine arrived in #Idlib consisting of 358800 doses," wrote Syrian photojournalist Samer Daboul on Twitter. 

Latest reports estimated that only around four percent of the country is vaccinated, compared to a global average of 30 percent per population.  

Daily cases of Covid-19 in the war-torn region surpassed 1,000 in the last week of August. 

"The escalating spread of the #Covid-19 virus in Northwest Syria very scar[y], many of my family who have corona. The numbers are skyrocketing," the journalist wrote three days later on social media. 

Doses of the Chinese vaccine will be given to at-risk groups, such as health care workers, people aged over 60, and people with chronic diseases. 

On 11 August, the WHO announced that an additional 2.36 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines are expected to be delivered to Syria over several consecutive shipments, including 493 680 doses allocated for the opposition northwest. 

However, despite this incoming supply, there is not enough to reach the COVAX target to have 20 percent of the population vaccinated by the end of 2021. 

Syria is one of 92 countries eligible for the COVAX scheme, an international coalition set up by humanitarian and medical organisations to ensure rapid development and equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. 

Vaccination efforts began in northwest Syria on 1 May, five months after vaccine deployment started in the UK. 

More than 48 million people have received a first vaccine dose in the UK, compared to Syria which has administered just over 400,000 doses according to data from WHO - making the Middle Eastern country one of the lowest vaccinated globally. 

Following years of fighting between regime and rebel forces in Syria, humanitarian needs are acute, with millions of people internally displaced and access to medical facilities scarce.