The World Bank has threatened to suspend financing for the vaccination program against Covid-19 in Lebanon, amid allegations that people are receiving vaccines without registering or waiting for their turn.
Lebanon began the vaccination program on February 14, after purchasing 28,000 doses of the Pfizer-Bionic vaccine, using part of the $ 34 million allocated to help the country deal with the pandemic.
To ensure fair and transparent distribution, the Lebanese government asked everyone to register on an online platform, whose software identifies those who have priority to receive the vaccine, according to agreed criteria.
Health workers, the elderly and those with chronic diseases were supposed to be vaccinated first.
But it was not long before complaints of “violations” surfaced in a country where corruption and mismanagement were blamed for an unprecedented economic crisis and a devastating explosion at the Beirut port last August.
After several members of parliament were vaccinated on Tuesday, the World Bank’s regional director, Saruj Kumar Jha, warned via Twitter of the consequences if it turned out that someone had received the vaccine other than his role.
He added that the World Bank had asked the observers to verify that the vaccination centers adhered to the rules, adding the hashtag “no wasta”.
The head of the National Committee for Managing the Vaccine File against Corona in Lebanon, Abd al-Rahman al-Bizri, hinted during a press conference that he would resign from the committee’s presidency, “after a number of parliamentarians received the vaccine in a way that violates the stages of the vaccination plan.”
Al-Bizri asserted that what happened “was outside the committee’s control and was not conducted in consultation with it, neither the president nor the members, and it is outside the hierarchy established by the committee.”
He added, “The occurrence of such a defect cannot be tolerated because it will entail another occurrence, and he considered that this defect has its symbolism. The parliament is supposed to represent the Lebanese people, and it must be by its side in its role in the vaccination process, just like all citizens.”
However, Parliament Secretary General Adnan Daher told the official news agency that the 16 MPs who had been vaccinated had been registered and “it is their turn” according to their age group.
The Information Office of the Presidency of the Republic also announced in a statement that the President and his wife received the vaccine with ten members of the President’s team “who registered their names according to the rules on the vaccination platform.”