Afghanistan receives first Covid-19 vaccine shipment

Afghanistan receives first Covid-19 vaccine shipment
2 min read
08 February, 2021
Afghanistan has yet to approve AstraZeneca shot, 500,000 of which arrived in the country from India on Sunday.
While testing is limited, Afghanistan has a recent decline in cases [AFP]
Afghanistan has received half a million doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca from India, the country's first batch to date.

Kabul authorities have yet to grant the shot emergency approval, according Afghan Health Minister Wahid Majrooh, who addressed reporters as he received the consignment on Sunday.

The minister added that once approved, the country's health workers and older citizens with a history of chronic illness would be first to receive the shot, as per World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.

"The vaccines we have received are under the WHO certification process. According to our conversation with WHO, they told us that the approval process of this vaccine certification takes a week to 10 days," he said.

The shipment was produced by the Serum Institute of India, which has begun distributing the vaccine to nearby countries.

Read also: Egypt to sell AstraZeneca vaccine to citizens ‘who can afford it’

Afghanistan recorded its first case of Covid-19 in February 2020. At that time, thousands of Afghan migrant workers were returning from Iran – the worst affected country in the Middle East.

Already crippled by years of war and internal strife, Afghanistan was soon hit hard by the virus, particularly in the capital, Kabul.

According to a health ministry survey in August, some 10 million people – a third of the country’s population – had been infected with the coronavirus.

While testing capacity is limited, recent months have seen a decline in overall cases.

The country has registered more than 55,300 cases and nearly 2,400 death, according to official records.

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