With a first COVID-19 jab under his belt and the second a few weeks away, Imad Agha was overwhelmed with relief. But his hopes of immunity were dashed when violence erupted in Gaza.

The 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas-controlled Gaza killed nearly 250 Palestinians and more than a dozen in Israel before a ceasefire took hold on May 21.

During that time, primary health care facilities turned to treating war-wounded instead of vaccinating, and the main COVID-19 testing lab was put out of service by bombing.

"Of course I never got that second dose," said Agha, a 39-year-old doctoral student who has been unable to leave Gaza to complete his studies in Malaysia since the coronavirus pandemic began more than a year ago.

"All we were thinking about was surviving," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from his hometown of Khan Younis.

Working on the COVID-19 frontline as a member of Khan Younis's municipal coronavirus committee, Agha fears that the conflict has set Gaza's coronavirus response — already struggling over the last year — even further back.

More than 107,000 people have been infected and 1,010 have died of COVID-19 in Gaza since the first case was recorded in March 2020.

Only 8,000 out of Khan Younis's 350,000 residents have received at least one vaccine dose, Agha said.

"There were another 1,500 people who were supposed to get their second doses the week the war started, but whose appointments were canceled," he added.

"Now that the war is over, the coronavirus challenges will start," he said.

Gaza is one of the most densely-populated places on earth, with 2 million people packed into a 365 square km strip of land, including 600,000 in eight refugee camps, according to the United Nations agency for Palestinians, UNRWA.

Read the full article about vaccine equity in Gaza by Maya Gebeily at Global Citizen.