Yemen received its first COVID-19 vaccines, a week after the internationally recognized government declared a health emergency in areas under its control.
The 360,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine arrived by plane at Aden, part of a consignment from the global COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme expected to total 1.9 million doses this year. COVX said.
In Aden, the government’s interim capital in a six-year old war, patients at an isolation centre in the grounds of a hospital lay on temporary beds in tents next to oxygen cylinders, breathing heavily.
“We need more staff, because the rise in cases is not normal. We are exhausted from work, exhausted,” said Zainab al-Qaisi, a doctor and director of the center. “The center is overwhelmed. We need oxygen, to expand intensive care across all provinces.”
The COVAX vaccines will be free, and distributed across the country, a spokesman for the government’s health ministry said last week, confirming more shots would arrive in May.
“While some countries have successfully vaccinated half of their population, Yemen finds itself at the back of the queue,” said MSF’s Head of Mission in Yemen, Raphael Veicht.