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Criticism Continues over Vaccination Chaos in Lebanon

Criticism Continues over Vaccination Chaos in Lebanon

Friday, 26 February, 2021 - 09:15
Healthcare workers wait to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Lebanese American University Medical Center-Rizk Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon February 16, 2021. (Reuters)

Controversy continued in Lebanon over chaos in the vaccination plan, in the wake of violations and queue-jumping.

The breaches were highlighted earlier this week when a number of MPs jumped the queue and received the vaccine ahead of others who should have priority to receive the jab. The first phase of the national inoculation plan demands that medical staff and people above 75 have a priority to receive the vaccine.

Health Minister in the caretaker government Hamad Hassan justified the scandal, saying that the inoculated MPs had their names registered in the official platform and belonged to the target groups.

He added that the vaccination of deputies, which took place at parliament’s headquarters, came in recognition of their “responsible role that allowed the issuance of the legislation facilitating the import of the vaccine.”

“If some consider that there is a loophole that occurred by vaccinating MPs, we will take it into consideration,” Hassan added.

The World Bank’s Regional Director for the Middle East, Saroj Kumar Jha, indicated that upon confirmation of the violation in the distribution of the vaccine, the World Bank may suspend funding the coronavirus response support plan across Lebanon.

Head of the national vaccination committee, Abdel-Rahman al-Bizri, noted that a meeting took place between Kumar Jha and Hassan to discuss the violation in the vaccination plan, and it would be followed by another.

Bizri said that what happened at parliament was an offense to the image that the committee was keen to draw of the vaccination process, with regards to transparency and the adoption of standards and priorities, hoping that this “violation of the scientific recommendations agreed upon by all authorities will not be repeated.”

Separately, the health minister met on Thursday with the head of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, Hassan Mneimneh, to discuss the vaccination of Palestinian refugees.

Mneimneh suggested the possibility of importing a batch of 300,000 vaccines that would be funded by donors and distributed to vaccination centers that would set up near or inside the camps.

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