BAGHDAD, March 2 (Xinhua) -- Iraq on Tuesday received a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Chinese government to help the country combat the pandemic.
"China was the first country to donate COVID-19 vaccines to Iraq, although China is still facing great pressure by the pandemic and needs vaccines badly," Chinese Ambassador to Iraq Zhang Tao said at a handover ceremony of the vaccines in Baghdad.
"In the coming stage, the Chinese side will continue to make joint efforts hand in hand with the Iraqi side to continuously strengthen the Sino-Iraqi strategic partnership and deepening bilateral cooperation in various fields," Zhang said.
"We are ready to continue providing support and assistance to Iraq to combat the pandemic and to provide more support for Iraq in the purchase of Chinese vaccines," he said, "and we will make joint efforts with the Iraqi side to build a common community in which health is available for all to achieve a final victory in the international battle to combat the pandemic."
Iraqi Minister of Health Hassan al-Tamimi hailed China's donation of Sinopharm vaccines to Iraq, saying that "we extend our thanks and appreciation to the government and people of the People's Republic of China for this initiative."
Al-Tamimi said sending the batch of COVID-19 vaccines is "a message from the friendly Chinese people to the Iraqi people, as China was the first country to send aid, equipment, and a medical team to Iraq."
"The pandemic is a problem that concerns all humanity and requires concerted efforts to overcome this ordeal, and vaccines must be distributed fairly for all humanity," said the minister.
The batch of Sinopharm vaccines is the first to reach Iraq at a critical time, as the country is facing an increase in coronavirus infections after the spread of a new variant of the virus recently.
Iraq has taken a series of measures to curb the recent rise in infections after the health ministry announced on Feb. 15 the detection of a new strain of coronavirus characterized by faster transmission and a higher level of severity.
The Iraqi National Board for Selection of Drugs has approved the emergency use of China's Sinopharm and Britain's AstraZeneca vaccines to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.