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Afghanistan Runs Out Of Vaccine Doses As Infections Spike

A man receives the Indian version of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from health officials at a hospital in Kabul.

Afghanistan has run out of COVID-19 vaccine doses and is now waiting for new deliveries amid a spike in infections with a third wave of the pandemic.

Health Ministry spokesman Dastagir Nazari said the vaccination process has been halted and only people who have had the first shot are currently being inoculated.

Afghanistan has an estimated population of 37 million and has so far received 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India and another 468,000 doses from the international vaccine-sharing program COVAX.

The doses were used to vaccinate medical personnel, members of the armed forces, teachers, and media workers.

Nazari said Afghanistan expects another 700,000 doses from China "in the near future," but there is no precise date for the deliveries.

Afghanistan is supposed to receive vaccines for 20 percent of its population through COVAX, while the government has enough funds to buy doses to inoculate another 28 percent of Afghans.

However, Nazari added, "like the majority of the underdeveloped countries," Afghanistan's efforts are being hampered by massive global vaccine demand, while the country is facing a surge in new infections.

The Health Ministry on May 30 reported 929 new cases and 25 deaths for the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of registered cases to 71,690 with 2,944 fatalities.

However, the actual number of infections is believed to be much higher due to limited public health resources and testing capacities.

The decades-long conflict between the Taliban and U.S.-led forces has put additional pressure on the public health system of Afghanistan, one of the world's poorest countries.

Nazari said that out of 1,500 intensive-care beds for the whole country, some 72 percent are already occupied by patients.

With reporting by dpa
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