By Simon Albaugh – Yemeni American News
SANA’A – A shipment of COVID-19 vaccines has arrived in Yemen, offering the besieged country an opportunity to begin immunization efforts.
In a press release provided through the United States Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, the Government announced the first shipment of 151,200 Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Aug. 29. The shipments were delivered by the United States Agency for International Development.
“I am pleased to announce the delivery of 151,200 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses to save lives in Yemen through COVAX,” said US Special Envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking. “This is in addition to the more than $108 million the United States has provided for COVID-19 pandemic response to refugees, vulnerable migrants, internally displaced persons and host communities.”
The $108 million has been spent on promoting hygiene awareness, increasing access to clean water, installing handwashing equipment, constructing and rehabilitating latrines and distributing basic protective materials.
“The United States, through USAID contributed $2 billion to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to support the purchase and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income countries, and we plan to commit another $2 billion by 2022,” reads the press release.
Testing capacities in Yemen are extremely limited, with only four testing sites in Sana’a, Aden, Taiz and Mukalla. With these limitations, John’s Hopkins University is currently reporting 748 confirmed cases of COVID-19, but there is likely to be more. Throughout the pandemic, Yemen has been able to confirm a total of 7,829 cases and 1,469 deaths due to complications related to COVID-19.
“One can only imagine how devastating the pandemic would be in poor countries, especially those involved in armed conflicts, where the health care system faces additional challenges including lack of adequate testing to identify infected cases,” writes researchers for the Journal of Global Health. “While this is applicable to many countries in the region, the scenario is worst in Yemen.”
The United States has committed to delivering 352,800 more doses of the vaccine to Yemen as the pandemic continues. Meanwhile, 43 Yemenis have died in the past week due to complications related to COVID-19. With the coming winter, graphs show that the number of deaths each week in the besieged country could easily grow.
“As [the President] stated, we are getting as many vaccines to as many people ASAP,” writes Ned Price, spokesperson for the US Department of State. “This first vaccine donation to the people of Yemen is the next step in doing so. We are committed to bringing relief to Yemenis in the midst of conflict and a pandemic. We hope others will join our efforts.”