The Gulf state has called on Israel to end vaccine apartheid on Palestinians.
Qatar stressed the importance of providing equal access to effective and affordable Covid-19 vaccines around the world on Saturday, during a UN General Assembly meeting.
The Gulf state was virtually represented by its Health Minister Dr. Hanan Mohammed Al Kuwari at the high-level meeting, where she called for the need to address challenges facing countries in accessing Covid-19 vaccines.
“While we in the State of Qatar are proud of these achievements at the national level, the State of Qatar is also keen to contribute to the replication of this achievement on a larger global scale,” said Al Kuwari.
The health minister said that more than 80% of Qatar’s population received at least two doses of the coronavirus vaccine as it administers booster shots to help contain further spreading of the virus.
Beyond Qatar, the Gulf state has been helping countries across the world in their fight against Covid-19 through the donation of medical aid and vaccines.
Last year, Qatar partnered with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) by providing the entity with $10 million to support its efforts in purchasing 1.3 billion doses. Through the partnership, the country aims to provide 92 low-income countries with vaccines.
During the same year, Qatar and the World Health Organisation (WHO) signed a $10 million agreement to enhance efforts in providing much-needed jabs.
In April, Qatar announced a major $100 million initiative to vaccinate more than three million refugees and displaced people in 20 countries around the world.
Last year also witnessed the launch of a $67 million fund by the Qatar Fund For Development (QFFD) to help tackle Covid-19 challenges around the world.
Qatar has also slammed Israel’s practices of vaccine apartheid against Palestinians last year.
The Gulf state’s Assistant Foreign Minister Lolwah Al Khater said that vaccines should not be politicsed, using the oppression Palestinians have been living under the illegal Israeli occupation as an example.
“[This is like] the oppression, violence and deprivation that the Palestinian brothers have been living in under the occupation for decades, in full view of the international community,” she said.
Israel has continued to refuse vaccines for Palestinians. In turn, this has contributed to the worsening health situation in the country and increased pressure on the Palestinian health sector.
According to Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel is obligated with establishing hospitals and providing health services in the occupied territory “with particular reference to the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics”.
Lack of equal access to vaccines has challenged the global fight against the pandemic, contributing to the rise of cases and Covid variants.
In April last year, WHO stated that 832 of the million doses administered worldwide, some 82% went to high or upper‑middle-income countries. In low-income countries, only 1 in 500 people have been vaccinated.
Qatar’s global vaccine efforts
Beyond its successful national vaccine drive, Qatar had supported the international community since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in 2020.
In June last year, Qatar also supplied Paraguay with 99,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine as part of a target to donate a total of 400,000 vaccines to the country.
In July, Qatar Charity and Jordan signed an agreement to provide the Hashemite Kingdom with a grant worth more than $2 million (10 million QAR) in support of its vaccination efforts.
During the same month, Qatar sent nine tonnes of urgent medical aid to Iran.
In August, Lebanon received 31,250 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines along with an aid package from the Qatar Fund for Development.
At the time, Qatar was also carrying out history’s largest airlift of people in history following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, Afghanistan, on 15 August. Doha provided Covid-19 vaccines to Afghan refugees who were temporarily staying in the Gulf state following evacuation missions.
The Gulf state also provided one million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Pakistan.
Beyond its delivery of vaccines, Doha also helped other countries extend a helping hand to other members of the international community. One such example being, Qatar Airways carrying over 2 million doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine donated by the US to Vietnam in an effort to combat the spread of the virus.