The World Bank has threatened to suspend funding for coronavirus vaccines in Lebanon over what it has called violations by vaccinated lawmakers in parliament.
The international lender’s comments on Tuesday came as frustration grew among some residents and doctors that the nationwide plan that requires people to get vaccinated at predetermined centers could be riddled with violations and favoritism.
Lebanon this month received its first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – 28,000 doses – with financial assistance from the World Bank, which said it would monitor to ensure the vaccine was sent to those who needed it. need it most. In its first operation financing the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, the lender reallocated $ 34 million to help Lebanon vaccinate more than two million people.
Parliament Secretary General Adnan Daher reportedly told local media that 16 MPs as well as four parliamentary staff, all over the age of 75, had received a COVID-19 blow inside the legislature. He insisted that they were all registered for the vaccine with the Ministry of Health and had not broken any rules.
But the World Bank said it broke terms of the deal with the government.
“We would save it [as a] violation of the terms and conditions agreed with us for a fair and equitable vaccination, ”Saroj Kumar Jha, regional director of the World Bank, said on Twitter. “Everyone must register and wait their turn,” he added.
“When confirming [a] violation, [the] The World Bank could suspend funding for vaccines and support for the Covid-19 response across Lebanon, ”Jha said.
Head of the COVID-19 vaccination committee Dr Abdel Rahman al-Bizri: vaccination of parliamentarians “a violation that cannot be tolerated”; undermines people’s confidence in the countryside.
– Zeina Khodr (@ZeinakhodrAljaz) February 23, 2021
The reports have raised anger in a country where many have lost faith in the corrupt political class accused of many of its woes.
“My mother is 84 years old, she is registered and has not done so [have] his turn again, while all the politicians, [their] families and friends will be vaccinated before it, ”one Twitter user said.
Abdel Rahman al-Bizri, who heads the vaccination campaign oversight committee, had planned to resign in protest on Tuesday but changed his mind, saying his committee will hold a meeting on Wednesday to follow up on the case. He added that an explanation is needed from the legislator.
“What happened today is scandalous and should not be repeated,” al-Bizri said at a press conference. “I am not responsible for this violation, but I apologize for it,” he told the local Daily Star newspaper, saying the violation threatened to undermine people’s confidence in the immunization program.
There was no immediate comment from the Department of Health.
A lawmaker said current and retired lawmakers over the age of 75, as well as some administrative staff, were getting vaccinated in the Parliament Chamber. “What is the problem? They are over 75 years old and are registered, ”said the deputy quoted by the Associated Press news agency.
In January, the Lebanese government launched a digital coronavirus vaccination recording platform for the people of the country.
The World Bank and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have signed an agreement for independent monitoring of the coronavirus vaccination campaign in Lebanon.
The vaccination campaign began on February 14 and Lebanon has so far received nearly 60,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Some 17,000 people had their first injection, according to health officials.
“Many violations have taken place in vaccination centers,” said Sharaf Abu Sharaf, president of the Lebanese College of Physicians. He added in a statement that the violations included the vaccination of people not registered or not included in the first phase of the campaign.
Lebanon, a country of six million inhabitants including one million Syrian refugees, has recorded more than 356,000 cases of coronavirus and 4,387 deaths since the first case was recorded in February 2020.