RAMALLAH, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Palestine on Wednesday received the first batch of the coronavirus vaccine from the global COVAX program, according to a senior health official.
Kamal al-Shakhra, spokesman of the Health Ministry, said in a statement that the first batch has some 62,000 doses, including 38,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and 24,000 of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
COVAX is a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners.
Al-Shakhra noted that the ministry decided to store the AstraZeneca vaccine until WHO makes its final scientific decision on the safe use of the vaccine.
He said the ministry will start a national vaccination plan, scheduled on March 21, adding that the priority will be given to medics and health personnel, cancer and kidney patients, and those aged over 75.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Mai al-Kaila told a news briefing that the West Bank currently has a high hospital occupancy rate.
The rate reached 110 percent in the previous week, even 115 percent in some places, she added.
On Wednesday, Palestine recorded 2,193 new COVID-19 cases, 29 more deaths and 2,080 recoveries in the last 24 hours in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, according to the Health Ministry.
Currently, 187 coronavirus patients remain in intensive care units, the ministry added.