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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Lebanon to get first vaccines in February: ministry

Lebanon has registered more than 170,000 cases of Covid-19 [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 December, 2020

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The first batch of vaccines will arrive in Lebanon in February, health authorities said.
Lebanon will receive its first shipment of coronavirus vaccines in February from Pfizer-BioNTech, the health ministry said Sunday.

"Lebanon will receive the vaccine in mid-February in instalments," it said in a statement.

"It will cover 15 percent of the population."

The ministry said it would later secure "additional vaccines" to cover another 20 percent of the population as part of an agreement with COVAX, without specifying which brand.

Read also: World bank warns of 'prolonged depression' in Lebanon

COVAX is an international initiative that aims to ensure equitable access to coronavirus vaccines for all countries.

The ministry said the vaccines would be made available via the private sector.

Lebanon, with a population of around six million, has recorded 171,662 coronavirus cases, including 1,394 deaths, since its outbreak started in February.

Ahead of the Christmas holidays, the government pushed back a night curfew to 3:00 am and allowed nightclubs and bars to reopen.

This prompted criticism from health professionals who warned bed occupancy in hospital intensive care units was running critically low.

Lebanon is grappling with its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The Lebanese pound has lost more than two thirds of its value on the black market, leading prices to skyrocket.

More than half of the population is trapped in poverty, according to the United Nations.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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