The bank urges Israel, which has made the greatest advances in vaccination in the world, to donate its Urplus shots.
The Palestinians’ COVID-19 vaccination plan is facing a $ 30 million funding deficit even after taking into account support for a global vaccination program for poorer economies, the World Bank said in a report on Monday.
Israel, a global leader in vaccination speeds, should consider donating excess doses to the Palestinians to expedite the adoption of vaccines in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, the bank said.
“To ensure there is an effective vaccination campaign, the Palestinian and Israeli authorities should coordinate the funding, purchase and distribution of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines,” it said.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) plans to cover 20 percent of Palestinians through the COVAX vaccine exchange program. PA officials are hoping to source additional vaccines to reach 60 percent coverage.
According to cost estimates, “a total of about $ 55 million would be required to cover 60 percent of the population, of which there is a gap of $ 30 million,” the World Bank said, calling for additional donor aid.
The Palestinians started vaccinating this month and received small donations from Israel, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.
However, the roughly 32,000 cans received so far are well below the 5.2 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the area Israel conquered in a 1967 war.
Palestinians and rights groups have accused Israel of ignoring its obligations as an occupying power by not including the Palestinians in their vaccination program.
Israeli officials said the PA’s Ministry of Health is responsible for vaccinating people in Gaza and parts of the West Bank, under the Oslo Peace Accords, where it has limited self-government.
Israel reopened parts of its economy on Sunday after introducing one of the fastest vaccination programs in the world. The company has given Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine to its 9.1 million citizens and has a separate stash of an estimated 100,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine.
While the PA expects to receive an initial shipment of COVAX within weeks, there is a risk that the program will fail, mainly due to a lack of funds. The PA says it has supply agreements with Russia and drug maker AstraZeneca, but the doses have been slow to arrive.
“From a humanitarian point of view, Israel can consider donating the extra doses it ordered that it would not use,” the World Bank said.
The Palestinians have launched a limited vaccination campaign with donations from countries like the United Arab Emirates, which have sent the Russian vaccine Sputnik V to Gaza [File: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]The PA’s Ministry of Health said Friday that Israel had agreed to vaccinate 100,000 Palestinians who regularly come to Israel for work.
A decision to vaccinate Palestinian workers should be made soon, said Dr. Nachman Ash, Israel’s tsar of coronavirus, told reporters on Sunday.
“From a medical point of view, we think vaccinating Palestinian workers is very right.”