Lebanon administered Sunday its first jabs of COVID-19 vaccine, with an intensive care unit physician becoming the first to receive Pfizer-BioNTech doses as a key step to defeat the deadly virus.
Lebanon launched its inoculation campaign a day after receiving the first batch of the vaccine — 28,500 doses from Brussels, near where Pfizer has a manufacturing facility. More were expected to arrive in the coming weeks.
The head of the critical care unit at Rafik Hariri University hospital, Dr. Mahmoud Hassoun, was the first person to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech jab under the watchful eyes of caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab and caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hasan.
Mahmoud Hassoun, the head of the intensive care unit at the key Rafik Hariri Hospital battling coronavirus, was the first person to get the jab, an AFP correspondent said.
“Hopefully this will be the start of the end of this plague in the country,” Hassoun said.
For his part, Diab paid tribute to the country’s overworked and overwhelmed front line workers.
“You are the unknown soldiers who have borne a great burden for a year, and who have been up to the responsibility,” he told the medical team. “I will not be receiving the vaccine today, for today is not my turn and the priority is for the medical sector that has done its duty and presented big sacrifices,” he said.
450,000 people have registered to be vaccinated, including 45,000 aged over 75 and 17,500 staff from the health sector, the Health Minister said. He has promised that all residents would be vaccinated, including Syrian and Palestinian refugees living in the country.
Lebanon is in the midst of a surge in coronavirus cases. It has registered about 337,000 cases with 3,961 deaths since its first confirmed case last February. The government imposed its strictest lockdown yet in early January, with 24-hour curfews and only basic services operating after record death tolls.
Source: Al-Manar Website and other websites