BEIRUT (Reuters) – The World Bank threatened to suspend funding for the COVID-19 vaccination in Lebanon in its second week after it emerged that some lawmakers would take their shots in parliament on Tuesday.
Comments from the World Bank came as frustration grew among some residents and doctors that vaccinations were moving slowly and could be fraught with violations.
Lebanon received its first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – about 28,000 doses – this month with help from the World Bank, which said it would monitor to make sure the shots went to those most in need.
In its first operation to fund the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, the World Bank reallocated $ 34 million to help Lebanon begin vaccinations.
The bank has warned against favoritism in a country where decades of state waste and corruption caused a terrible financial collapse.
After local media reported that some lawmakers would receive their COVID-19 shots on Tuesday, World Bank Regional Director Saroj Kumar Jha said he would violate the agreed national plan for fair vaccination.
Following confirmation of the breach, the World Bank may suspend funding for vaccines and support for COVID19’s response throughout Lebanon !! he wrote on Twitter. I call on everyone, I mean everyone, regardless of your position, please register and wait for your turn.
The health ministry has sought to dispel fears that politicians would line up. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
One MP said current lawmakers and retirees over the age of 75, as well as some administrative staff, were being vaccinated in the parliament hall. What is the big issue? They were over 75 and registered, he said.
Television networks were not present.
Charaf Abou Charaf, head of the Lebanese doctors’ union, had called for more transparency earlier Tuesday and said there were many violations without giving a figure.
He said people who had no priority or were not registered had been vaccinated while some medical workers and elderly Lebanese were still waiting.
Hospitals, hit by the Lebanese financial crisis and the port explosion in recent years, have battled some of the regions with the highest infection rates since January. Increase in the number of Lebanese dead over 4,300.
Reporting by Ellen Francis and Laila Bassam; Additional reporting by Maha El Dahan
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