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The New Arab Staff

Iraq to receive first delivery of Covid-19 vaccines on Monday

China pledged to donate 50,000 vaccines to Iraq earlier in February [Getty/ Archive]

Date of publication: 28 February, 2021

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Iraq is experiencing a resurgence in Covid-19 cases attributed to new strains spreading in the country.
Iraq will receive its first batch of Covid-19 vaccines from China on Monday, the country's health ministry said on Saturday.

The ministry said in a statement that it had received a grant from Beijing to "secure a first batch of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine".

The announcement follows a pledge from China's embassy in Iraq earlier in February to donate 50,000 vaccines.

Iraq has approved the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines for use, however has encountered delays in receiving its vaccine orders.

Baghdad agreed a deal with American pharmaceutical firm Pfizer to secure 1.5 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, however shipment has been delayed after the company requested a guarantee of protection "from liability and compensation before supplying the vaccine to Iraq".

Iraq has also participated in the World Health Organization's COVAX vaccine supply scheme, having paid more than $169 million dollars for 16 million doses through the WHO-led programme.

Iraq is experiencing a resurgence of coronavirus infections, which the health ministry has blamed on a new faster-spreading strain that first emerged in the United Kingdom.

The country of 40 million is registering around 4,000 new cases per day, near the peak that it had reached in September, with total infections nearing 700,000 and deaths at nearly 13,400. 

Authorities imposed a modified lockdown and curfew in mid-February to curb the new surge in cases, closing schools and mosques and leaving restaurants and cafes only open for takeout.

But the government decided against a full shutdown because of the difficulty of enforcing it and the financial impact on Iraq’s battered economy, the Iraqi officials told The Associated Press.

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