BAGHDAD

Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Thursday launched its vaccination campaign against the novel coronavirus with doses developed by Chinese firm Sinopharm, the region’s health minister announced.

In a press conference in the regional capital Erbil, Sarhanak Jambar said the “historic” initiative would mark “the beginning of the elimination of the virus,” adding that doctors, nurses, and other health sector professionals would be prioritized in getting vaccinated.

“After completing the vaccination of this group, we’ll start vaccinating people over the age of 70, then 60 years, followed by those with chronic diseases, and thereafter the security forces as stipulated in the Health Ministry’s [regional] plan.”

On Tuesday, Iraqi Health Minister Hassan al-Tamimi said his ministry received the first batch of 50,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine as a grant from China, noting that health staff would be first to get the jabs.

In a separate statement, the ministry added that the doses would be distributed to all governorates across the country, including the provinces of the northern KRG, based on population. It did not define exactly how many doses each of the regions would get.

The country’s parliament announced on Jan. 26 that the Health Ministry would purchase 1.6 million doses of the Pfizer/BıoNTech vaccine, along with 8 million doses of the UK-made AstraZeneca shot.

The total number of coronavirus infections in the Kurdish region has so far reached 109,587, including 3,525 deaths and 103,918 recoveries.

Across Iraq, the overall tally of infections is 708,951, with 13,483 fatalities and 646,619 recoveries.

*Ibrahim Mukhtar in Ankara contributed to this report.

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