Italy joins other European Union member states in increasing promise of COVID-19 vaccines in Syria [EN/AR] – Syrian Arab Republic

DAMASCUS, February 1, 2022 – 3,996,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Syria on January 26, donated by Italy through the COVAX facility.

In May last year, as president of the G20, Italy hosted the Global Health Summit alongside the European Commission, which saw many European countries commit to sharing millions of doses of vaccines with priority countries like Syria, increasing short-term supplies.

The EU and its Member States are to date the largest donor of COVID-19 vaccines in the world, having shared more than 350 million doses to countries around the world, via COVAX (around 300 million) and bilaterally ( more than 45 million).

“Italy is donating doses to COVAX in addition to the $470 million it has pledged to the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (Gavi COVAX AMC) and this donation in particular will enable large numbers of people in Syria to access to vaccines now,” said Italian Chargé d’Affaires ai Massimiliano D’Antuono. “Italy stands with the Syrian people and, in cooperation with EU humanitarian aid, UNICEF and WHO, supports the efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and in general the consequences of the dire humanitarian situation across the country,” he continued.

The deployment of vaccines donated by Italy and the awareness campaign will be funded by EU humanitarian aid and implemented by WHO. The EU, in particular, is providing humanitarian support to the WHO in Syria to help the health system cope with the ongoing pandemic and reach the target of 70% vaccinated by mid-2022 . EU humanitarian funding enables the deployment of vaccines and the deployment of vaccination teams. Humanitarian assistance is essential at a time when vulnerable Syrians and caregivers are not only threatened by COVID-19, but also by the consequences of continued conflict, economic decline and harsh winter conditions.

The European Union’s Chargé d’Affaires ad interim in Syria, Dan Stoenescu, said: “As part of our #TeamEurope humanitarian commitment to the people of Syria, the EU is supporting vaccination efforts in Syria, where vaccination against COVID-19 is lower than in other countries. The European Union is working hard with COVAX and vaccine manufacturers, with donors and other partners, to speed up the delivery of doses in the world, including in Syria. Our goal is to ensure that the majority of the Syrian population is vaccinated by the end of this year. Italy’s generous donation comes at the right time and will help us achieve this goal.”

Vaccination coverage in Syria is among the lowest in the world.

“Syria’s vaccine supply has been slow. While we aimed to vaccinate 20% of the population by the end of December 2021, the available vaccines were then only sufficient to cover 13% of the population. This shipment generously donated by the Italian government will reach an additional 20% of the population with life-saving COVID-19 vaccines,” said Akjemal Magtymova, Chief of Mission and WHO Representative in Syria. “Vaccine availability is an important step in ensuring equitable immunization, but so is vaccine delivery and demand generation. We must step up our concerted efforts to continue to build public confidence in COVID-19 vaccines in order to reach the national vaccination goal of 40% by April this year and at least 70% by the end of 2022,” added Dr Magtymova.

Donated vaccines can be stored and transported using standard equipment for routine vaccines. This enables distribution in remote areas and offers the possibility of the hardest to reach populations in the country to be protected with a single dose. Frontline workers, the elderly, people with pre-existing conditions and eligible people continue to be prioritized with vaccination.

“This donation from the Italian government is incredibly timely and important in our fight against the pandemic. Unless we protect health workers and other frontline workers, health systems will continue to be overburdened and the most vulnerable women and children will lose access to life-saving services, jeopardizing years of progress and culminating in the backwardness of the poorest children,” said UNICEF Syria. Representative, Bo Viktor Nylund.

UNICEF and WHO will continue to support efforts to deliver vaccines safely through cold chain management; support vaccinators in fixed facilities and mobile teams; increase testing and laboratory capacity to detect COVID-19 cases and prevent the spread of the pandemic; and build public knowledge and confidence in vaccines.

Notes to Editors

Just over 2.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Syria to date. As of January 24, 2022, only 5.1% of the total population had been fully vaccinated, most with two doses, and 10% had received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The figures above do not include figures from northwest Syria. In the northwest, more than 287,000 people received their first dose and nearly 146,500 people their second.

For more information please contact:

Press and Information Team of the EU Delegation to Syria, [email protected]

Eva Hinds, UNICEF Syria, [email protected], +963 950 044 304

Gulalek Soltanova, WHO Syria, [email protected], +963 953 888 477

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