Iraq begins rolling out Chinese gifted Sinopharm vaccine
ERBIL (Kurdistan24) – Iraqi health authorities on Tuesday began vaccinating prioritized groups after the country received 50,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine from China.
A batch of 50,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine arrived in the country’s capital Baghdad overnight on Monday. The vaccine, developed by state-run Sinopharm, was donated to Iraq by the Chinese government.
The first jabs were administered early Tuesday to members of the “white army,” Iraq’s health minister Hassan Tamimi said, referring to health care workers in Baghdad’s well-known Medical City.
The ministry previously said that it had launched an electronic platform for citizens to register themselves for vaccination. A review of the website by Kurdistan 24 staff early Tuesday indicated that the platform was not yet functional.
Health authorities in Iraq previously announced that the Sinopharm vaccine would be distributed to health centers in provinces across the country.
Officials have said that the autonomous Kurdistan Region will have shares of any vaccine that the Iraqi health ministry purchases. Most recently, the Region’s health officials indicated that they are also seeking to independently buy vaccines directly from manufacturers.
An official from the Region’s health ministry recently said that the Kurdish region’s share of the Sinopharm vaccine will be 5,000 doses.
Around 2,500 people are initially expected to receive the vaccines, Hawezi said, as two doses are required for the body to produce enough antibodies to protect against the novel coronavirus.
The vaccine, a product of the Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm, has recently been approved for emergency use in a number of countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), whose health ministry said the vaccine’s efficacy is 86 percent.
In late January, a conference on the COVID-19 vaccination strategy was held in the Kurdistan Region’s capital Erbil, in which the challenges of immunization in Iraq and the autonomous Kurdish region were discussed.
Sinopharm says its COVID-19 vaccine can be stored at standard refrigerator temperatures of 2˚C to 8˚C (36˚F to 46˚F), compared to much lower temperatures required for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Iraq, including its Kurdish region, has so far seen nearly 700,000 COVID-19 cases since the onset of the pandemic in early March 2020 with over 13,000 fatalities.
Editing by Joanne Stocker-Kelly