In order to secure the release of an Israeli woman who had been held by its longtime enemy, Syria, Israel agreed to purchase the Russian “Sputnik V” vaccine for Syrian healthcare workers, in an exchange deal brokered in Moscow.
Syria’s health minister said on Thursday it had received COVID-19 vaccination doses from a “friendly country” and healthcare workers would start receiving inoculations next week.
Hassan Ghabash’s comments, carried by state news agency SANA, did not specify which country provided the vaccines or how many doses had arrived.
Health officials had said Syria was engaged with Russia and China on vaccines but no bilateral deals have been announced yet.
China said earlier this month it would send 150,000 doses of vaccine to Syria as aid but a source told Reuters on Thursday those had not been delivered yet.
Israeli media have reported that Israel agreed to fund the purchase of Russian vaccines for Syria, its longtime enemy, in order to secure the release last week of an Israeli woman who had been held there.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has declined to comment on those reports. It also declined comment on reports Syria had received doses from a “friendly” country.
RDIF, the Russian sovereign wealth fund responsible for marketing Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine abroad, declined to comment.
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‘as a light unto the nations’