Syria’s Health Ministry launched on Tuesday a national COVID-19 vaccination drive targeting frontline healthcare workers.
Health Minister Hasan al-Ghabbash said the vaccine administration is carried out in accordance with the priorities set to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
He said healthcare workers, the elderly and citizens suffering from chronic diseases will be inoculated first.
He said the Ministry’s cadres have already received the first dose of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, noting that others will receive the shot of their choice.
According to Ghabbash, the first phase of the national inoculation drive will include people at high risk of contracting the virus.
The health ministry detected a recent decline in infections in Damascus and other government-run areas compared to March and April.
It recorded 60 new coronavirus cases, 287 recoveries and seven deaths in regime-held areas, raising the infection tally to 23,439, including 19,024 recoveries and 1,664 deaths.
The global vaccine-sharing platform COVAX is scheduled to send 1,020,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the Geneva-based GAVI vaccine alliance to Syria.
According to member of Syria’s coronavirus advisory committee Dr. Nabough al-Awa, batches of the Russian, Chinese and Indian COVID-19 vaccines have arrived in government-run areas.
He said 200,000 AstraZeneca shots will be given to people under 50 to avoid rare cases of blood clots associated with the vaccine.
Awa pointed out that 150,000 doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine have arrived, adding that Russia has also provided a batch of its Sputnik V vaccine.
Doctors and people under 50 will receive Russian and Chinese jabs to avoid any implications, Awa said, pointing out that no serious side-effect has been detected among the inoculated.
In the northwestern city of Idlib, the Syria Vaccination Team and the armed opposition-affiliated Idlib Health Directorate are striving to inoculate healthcare workers and journalists who have contracts with humanitarian organizations.
Member of the Team’s central chamber Dr. Marwan Kaddour said the first phase targets healthcare and humanitarian workers.
While the second phase targets the elderly, people with chronic diseases and public servants, he added, noting the they will receive the shots once the second COVID-19 vaccine batch arrives.
Healthcare workers in opposition-run areas recorded 28 new infection cases in the Idlib and Aleppo countryside, taking the infection tally to 22,197, including 655 deaths and 20,236 recoveries.