Afghanistan starts COVID-19 vaccination drive amid increase in violence

KABUL: Afghanistan on Tuesday launched its coronavirus vaccination drive with hopes of inoculating hundreds of thousands, as the war-weary nation reels from near-daily attacks by militants.

Doctors, security personnel, and journalists were among the first volunteers to receive doses of AstraZeneca´s Covid-19 vaccine, donated earlier this month by India.

“Today, I congratulate the people of Afghanistan for the launch of the first stage of Covid-19 vaccine [drive] with 500,000 doses of vaccines. This is a big opportunity for the people of Afghanistan,” said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani as the first jabs were administered.

“We don´t expect any miracles, but let´s help this campaign to be implemented justly,” the country´s acting health minister Waheed Majroh added.

Afghanistan is believed to have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic in the last year, but limited testing and a ramshackle healthcare sector have hampered its ability to track the virus.