Iraq gets first shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines via COVAX

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COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq received 336,000 doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, the first sent there under the global COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme.

Health minister Hassan al-Tamimi came to Baghdad Airport to greet the life-saving shipment and watched as the cases were unloaded into refrigerated trucks. He said they would quickly go out to regions across the country.

Iraq got its first coronavirus vaccines - 50,000 doses of the Sinopharm doses donated by China - on March 2, but has struggled to keep up with demand.

It reported its highest ever daily tally of more than 6,500 new infections on Thursday, bringing the total to 815,605. Authorities have imposed a nightly curfew to try and contain the spread.

The COVAX facility, backed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), aims to secure 2 billion vaccine doses for lower income countries by the end of 2021.

(Reporting by Maher Nazeh and Khaled Abdul Qader; Writing by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Andrew Heavens)