JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli government on Wednesday said it was donating 1 million coronavirus vaccines to the U.N.-backed COVAX program.
The Foreign Ministry said the AstraZeneca vaccines would be transferred in the coming weeks, a decision that was part of Israel’s strengthening ties with the African countries.
“I am delighted that Israel can contribute and be a partner in eradicating the pandemic around the world,” said Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.
The announcement said the vaccines would reach close to a quarter of African countries, though it did not provide a list. Israel has close ties with a number of African nations, including Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Israel also established relations with Sudan last year as part of a series of U.S.-brokered accords.
COVAX is a global initiative that aims to provide coronavirus vaccines to poorer nations. Wealthier countries have acquired the most of the world’s vaccine supplies, causing vast inequality in access to jabs.
Israel was one of the first countries to vaccinate its population. Early this year, it came under criticism for not sharing enough of its supplies with the Palestinians.
Since then, Israel has vaccinated tens of thousands of Palestinians who work in Israel and its settlements, and the Palestinians have procured vaccines from COVAX and other sources.