Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hasan said Lebanon is set to receive COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer in mid-February.
“Lebanon will receive the Pfizer vaccine in mid-February at the latest, if it gets final approval,” Hasan said during an interview with local Al-Jadeed TV.
Hasan said the Health Ministry started talks with Pfizer early on compared to other countries, which would allow Lebanon to be one of the first countries to receive the vaccine at a competitive price.
A committee has been established to handle the import and storage of the vaccine as it requires special refrigeration, the minister was quoted as saying by English newspaper The Daily Star.
Hasan said the Pfizer shipment will cover 15 percent of Lebanon’s population, and 20 percent will receive vaccines through the COVAX global initiative that secures countries with equitable access to vaccines.
The caretaker health minister added that Lebanon will be in talks with the Moderna company, which is also developing a vaccine, “especially that its founders are of Lebanese origin.”
The co-founder and chairman of Moderna is 58-year-old Lebanese-Armenian Noubar Afeyan, whose family emigrated from Lebanon when he was a teenager.
Hasan added that no financial issue will prevent Lebanon from obtaining the vaccine as there is a possibility of increasing the amount transferred from the World Bank loan to cover coronavirus expenses.
The health minister also said that the ministerial coronavirus committee has recommended that those above the age of 60 and those with chronic diseases and immunity problems should be the first to receive the vaccine once it arrives in Lebanon.
Tackling the full lockdown, which started on November 14, Hasan said there were good signs as the positivity rate, while still high at 15 percent, has not increased.
“Our aim is to decrease the positivity rate to 10 percent coupled with increasing the level of readiness of public hospitals through increasing ICU beds, as private hospitals simultaneously do the same,” Hasan said.
“A two-week lockdown will not achieve what is needed but our measures need to adapt to the economic and social realities of the country,” he added, according to the daily.
Source: Lebanese Newspapers