KABUL, Afghanistan

Afghanistan received around half a million doses of novel coronavirus vaccines on Monday via the COVAX facility, the global initiative aimed at providing equitable access to COVID-19 jabs.

“Today MoPH [Ministry of Public Health] has received 468,000 doses of #COVID19 vaccine shipped via the #COVAX Facility. Congratulations to the Government of #Afghanistan for getting one step closer to defeating #COVID19,” announced the World Health Organization (WHO) Afghanistan as a flight carrying the shipment landed at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul in the afternoon.

The Public Health Ministry announced that in addition to 468,000 doses, 470,000 syringes and 4,700 safety boxes were also part of the shipment. It said in a statement that the delivery was part of a first wave of arrivals that would continue in the coming weeks and months.

It said COVAX pledged to provide the country with at least 16 million doses.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Dr. Mirwais Alizai told Anadolu Agency that school and university teachers across the country would get the jabs in next phase of the country’s vaccination campaign after frontline health workers, security forces and journalists.

The latest Health Ministry figures indicate that the total number of confirmed cases COVID-19 cases in Afghanistan surged to 55,868 on Monday, with 310,613 diagnostic tests being conducted for the virus and 2,451 losing their lives to it.

Afghanistan began its first COVID-19 vaccinations last month following the WHO approved for emergency use shots developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca.

The country on Feb. 7 received from India 500,000 doses of the vaccine, locally known as Covishield. It is being produced by the Serum Institute for middle and low-income countries.

The UN-led COVAX initiative has pledged $112 million for vaccines to cover the population of nearly 39 million.

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