Afghanistan to receive COVID-19 vaccines from US

By Salaam Times and AFP


A health worker inoculates a man with Covishield vaccine against COVID-19 at a vaccination centre in Kabul on April 26. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

WASHINGTON -- Afghanistan is among the countries slated to receive the first of 80 million coronavirus vaccine doses that the United States will distribute globally before July.

US President Joe Biden Thursday (June 3) outlined his plan for the first of 80 million coronavirus vaccine doses that the United States will distribute globally before July, with 75% of shots disbursed via the Covax programme.

"We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic, with the power of our example and with our values," Biden said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Biden pledged to export 60 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to countries around the world -- then bumped it up to 80 million.


A medical worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a colleague at a hospital in Herat on February 24. [Hoshang Hashimi/AFP]

The commitment to help struggling nations comes as significant progress has occurred in rolling out vaccinations in the United States.

"The process to export the first 25 million is under way," White House COVID-19 response co-ordinator Jeff Zients said. "We will deliver on the president's commitment of 80 million doses by the end of June."

The first tranche is coming from the federal supply of doses and will include a combination of the three vaccines with current US emergency use authorisation: Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, he said.

For the doses shared through Covax, the United States will provide vaccines to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa as it aims to help stave off fresh surges of infections.

About seven million of the US plan's first 25 million doses are allocated for Asia, especially India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Vietnam.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and vaccine alliance Gavi co-founded Covax to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, particularly to low-income countries.

It has delivered almost 80 million doses to 127 territories to date.

Overcoming vaccine delivery hurdles

Afghanistan has faced more hurdles than most in its response to the global pandemic, Gavi said an April 20 report, "Resourceful Optimism: Fighting COVID-19 in Afghanistan".

The Taliban, who have a long history of obstructing vaccination campaigns, seized a consignment of vaccines in Faryab province in March during the first phase of the vaccine's roll-out.

The country also has "a uniquely vulnerable public health setting", the report said, with only 9.4 skilled health workers, and just 1.9 doctors, per 10,000 patients.

"For reasons of rugged geography and pervasive insecurity, an estimated 15% of Afghanistan is considered a 'white area' -- a zone beyond the reach of health services," the report said.

And at the start of the pandemic, it said, Afghanistan had no laboratories equipped to diagnose COVID-19.

Since the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in Afghanistan in February 2020 -- the patient was an Afghan national returning to Herat province from Iran -- there have been 57,534 confirmed cases and 2,533 deaths, according to official data.

People on the ground say the real toll is significantly higher, according to the Gavi report.

In meetings earlier this year, senior government officials raised doubts about the likelihood of safely delivering COVID-19 vaccines to all of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.

The road between Kabul and Kandahar had been blocked for some 17 days at that point, they pointed out.

Despite the Taliban having blown up vital roads, bridges and other infrastructure such as dams in a number of Afghan provinces, the vaccines are still able to reach provincial health centres across the country.

And despite the Farayab incident, vaccines have made it to all provinces.

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We thank the United States of America for its humanitarian assistance of providing the corona vaccine to the people of Afghanistan. The United States has once again showed that this country stands with the people of Afghanistan and always cooperates with Afghans.


The government of Afghanistan must accelerate the corona vaccination process and implement COVID 19 vaccine to all citizens of the country as soon as possible. Every day, dozens of people lose their lives as a result of corona and the number is increasing day by day. Half of the population of Afghanistan is killed by the destructive wars, and the other half will be killed by corona because there is no possibility of 100% lock-down in this country as it is practiced in other countries, because people of this country are poor and cannot observe lock-down. They are obliged to go out of their homes and earn a livelihood for themselves by the end of the day. The only solution is the implementation of vaccine. We thank the friendly country of the United States of America who wants to eradicate this deadly disease in Afghanistan by providing the vaccines to the people of Afghanistan and we also ask other countries to help in providing Afghanistan with the vaccines, because Afghanistan's economy is not good and it cannot afford to buy vaccine for all of its citizens.


If it is proved that China has created the corona deliberately, then China should compensate the world countries, especially the poor countries, for the losses they suffered. I don't like conflicts among the countries; humans should solve their issues through talks instead of fighting. In my opinion, the world's wealthy countries should accelerate their efforts to supply vaccines to the whole world within a period of three months so that all human beings can get rid of the corona pandemic. The Holy Quran preaches welfare for all humans. The Holy Quran, a miracle, mentions the term human on 66 occasions and humans [plural] on 251 occasions, while the term Muslim is mentioned 45 times, which means that the divine book asks for the welfare of the entire human beings. I wish I had enough money to provide corona vaccines to all humans globally, and then I could sponsor ways of preventing other diseases. Allah helps.