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Best of Times, Worst of Times with Mideast Vaccination Efforts

Best of Times, Worst of Times with Mideast Vaccination Efforts

Outside Israel, a global leader in COVID inoculations, just 1% of Middle East has been vaccinated, some with just a single dose

The World Health Organization announced on February 15 that, aside from Israeli residents, just 1% of the Middle East’s inhabitants had received at least one dose of the corona vaccine.

In Tunisia, for example, the AFP reports that citizens of the sole country to emerge from the 2011 Arab Spring as a nascent democracy will not receive their first Pfizer and AstraZeneca shots until March.

In addition, the Gaza Strip just received its first 1,000 doses Wednesday, courtesy of the Russians, who supplied their own Sputnik V vaccine.

The WHO report excluded Israel, one of the global leaders in coronavirus inoculation distribution. The Jewish state is faring far better by this measure than its closest ally, the United States.

“When you look at the [number of] vaccinations per 100 people … Israel is way up there with 78 doses per 100 people, compared to the United States, which has 16.7 doses per 100 people,” Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said Wednesday at a press conference.

This announcement comes as Israel is set to lift closures Sunday on libraries, nonessential shops, and malls, among other places.

Sporting events, gyms, and hotels are among the venues set to open that will be exclusive to those who have had both doses of the vaccine or have contracted the virus and fully recovered. They will demonstrate that they fit the prescribed criteria by showing a “green pass,” which is not yet available to the public.

Bahrain became the first Gulf Cooperation Council country to launch a green passport on February 17. Applicable subscribers can use the BeAware app to show that at least two weeks have passed since they received the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine, giving them maximum protection from the virus.

Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers for the Middle East and North Africa as of 12 noon Greenwich Mean Time (UTC±0) on Thursday.

CountryConfirmed CasesDeathsRecoveredActive Cases
Palestinian Territories170,5271,948158,7099,870
Saudi Arabia373,7026,445364,6462,611
United Arab Emirates361,8771,073347,36613,438


Steven Ganot contributed to this report.

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