Caretaker Health Minister: Lebanon to Complete Inoculation of Vulnerable Groups by June
By Staff, Agencies
Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hasan said Friday night that with additional COVID-19 vaccines on the way, Lebanon hopes to inoculate all vulnerable groups by the end of June.
In an interview with Al-Manar television station, Hasan said his ministry secured an additional 750,000 jabs from Pfizer raising the total number of doses set to arrive by June to 1.2 million from the American company as well as hundreds of thousands of AstraZeneca shots in the same period "which will allow the completion of the vaccination of the most vulnerable groups."
Hasan said that despite continued high rate of coronavirus cases a new wave of infections does not appear to be imminent but warned that the population should follow instructions.
"It is imperative to adhere to wearing masks and social distancing, so that the experiences of the past are not repeated, and so that future events and holidays will not turn into funerals," he said.
Hasan said that the country can only start to breathe easier once the vulnerable groups are vaccinated by end of June. “At that time, it is expected that the mortality rate and the intensive care bed occupancy rate will decrease," he said.
Hasan welcomed private initiatives to help fighting the pandemic. He said he authorized an NGO – Beirut Society for Social Development – to set up a field hospital for coronavirus patients donated by the United Arab Emirates in BIEL. He said the hospital would have 50 ICUs and 500 beds to treat those infected with COVID-19.
The minister also said that the ministry authorized Lebanese-Russian Business Council Head Jacques Sarraf to import SPUTNIK V vaccine to Lebanon. Local reports said Sarraf had reached a deal with the Russian manufacturer for 1 million doses, which are to start arriving in Lebanon in weekly shipments from March 24.
"Confronting the epidemic is a national responsibility and there is no problem at all with the private sector’s initiatives in getting the vaccine. Rather, the ministry supports these initiatives in order to achieve its strategy of health protection and community immunization,” Hasan said.
He also revealed a $10 million Kuwaiti donation to establish a hospital for emergency cases in north Lebanon.