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Algeria Reneges on Pledge to Share COVID-19 Vaccine With Tunisia

January 19, 2021

Algerian Minister of Communication, Ammar Belhimer recently stirred controversy after announcing that his country will give Tunisia a portion of its COVID-19 vaccines, which is expected to be delivered from Russia and China before the end of the month.

Earlier, Belhimer, who is also the government spokesman, told a local e-paper that Algeria will supply its neighboring country with the shots that exceed the national need.

However, a government medical source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the doses are barely sufficient to inoculate medical and paramedical personnel, who are a priority in the first group.

He indicated that the Ministry of Health is expecting to receive a small batch of the Chinese coronavirus vaccine by the end of the month.

The source believes the promises made to share the vaccines were hasty, adding that until now it is still unclear when medical authorities will actually receive them.

Members of the Scientific Committee for Monitoring the Coronavirus Pandemic informed various state media outlets that 8,000 clinics and medical facilities will be used as inoculation centers.

Chairman of the National Council of Algerian Doctors, Mohammad Baqat-Burkani, said that the Health Minister informed the Scientific Committee about Tunisia’s request to share the treatment.

The Minister was informed that Algeria will not be able to share its vaccines with another country, given that the first batch is small, and the second one will be delivered after two months.

Meanwhile, the Director of Public Health Institute, Ilyas Rahal, told state radio that all medical teams are prepared to begin inoculations.

Rahal indicated that injections will be administered gradually and all year long, without specifying a starting date.

He noted that the vaccines will be distributed according to available quantities and based on residential areas, stressing that the priority will be for workers of the health and strategic sectors.

Algeria’s total number of coronavirus infections reached 100,000, while the number of deaths is about 3,000.

Last week, the government extended its lockdown measures for two weeks, while the president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, is still in Germany where he is receiving treatment of complications in his foot resulting from a coronavirus infection.