Over 1.6 million donated COVID-19 vaccines land in Iran to increase protection of Afghan Refugees

Tehran, IRNA - On Monday evening, the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines landed at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran, donated as part of the Humanitarian Buffer mechanism of the COVAX Facility to help the government vaccinate more refugees.

A second shipment of the vaccine will land in the country on Tuesday, bringing the total number of vaccines donated through the international mechanism - all Sinopharm - to 1,611,600 doses. Safety boxes and syringes for these vaccines will be shipped to the country separately.

Iran has already been vaccinating refugees against the coronavirus, at the same time as its citizens and as part of the national vaccination plan. This new shipment will ensure that more refugees will be protected under Iran's inclusive health policies.

Iran was one of the first countries affected by the pandemic and, in the last months, has managed to step up its vaccination campaign. So far, around 50 percent of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated.  According to government figures, to date over 500,000 refugees and other persons of concern have received two vaccine doses.

While the Humanitarian Buffer within the COVAX Facility ensures that countries have enough vaccines to immunize high-risk and vulnerable populations in humanitarian settings, given the high number of Afghans already living in Iran, and the recent arrivals of Afghans fleeing renewed violence and insecurities, more vaccines will likely be needed to protect this community against COVID-19.

Iran’s application for the Humanitarian Buffer was supported by the UN in Iran, which extends its appreciation to the COVAX Facility and the international community for donating vaccines to countries in need. The UN calls for more such donations, as a symbol of international responsibility-sharing, to help countries hosting large numbers of refugees to overcome the pandemic.

Iran, as one of the self-financing participant countries of the COVAX Facility, has since April 2021 received 6.7million COVID-19 vaccine doses from its paid allocation, with new consignments to be delivered soon. Through COVAX, UN Iran has also facilitated the delivery and shipment of donated COVID-19 vaccines to Iran, including 2.9 million doses donated by Japan, 1,139,600 doses donated by Italy, and 302,400 doses donated by Germany.

The COVAX Facility is a partnership co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi-The Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

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