BEIRUT, Lebanon The Covid-19 vaccination machine in Lebanon exploded in scandal on Tuesday when 16 lawmakers took shots inside the parliament building, violating regulations aimed at keeping the process fair and transparent.
The vaccination program, funded by the $ 34 million World Bank, began earlier this month when the country received its first doses. To try to ensure accountability in a country known for cutting corners and corruption, the government requires citizens to register for vaccination through an online portal. Medical personnel and people over the age of 75 are presumed to receive the first shots, administered at official vaccination centers.
On Tuesday, parliamentary secretary Adnan Daher confirmed to reporters that 16 lawmakers had been shot. He said lawmakers were all right and it was their turn to get vaccinated. But according to lists compiled by local media, about half were younger than 75 years old.
Elie Ferzli, a lawmaker in the early 1970s who shot her on Tuesday, denied in a telephone interview that she had crossed the line and said she was shocked by the public outrage over the shooting.
I have meetings every day in parliament, so how should I continue to do my job normally and help people? he said.
Officials overseeing the vaccination program, however, shouted badly.
Dr. Abdul Rahman Bizri, head of Lebanon’s vaccines committee, threatened to resign over what he condemned as a violation for which we could not remain silent, but he decided to stick to it.
Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Director for the region that includes Lebanon, wrote on Twitter before the reports were confirmed that allowing lawmakers to jump in line was not in line with the national plan and added, everyone should register and wait their turn!
He said that if the rules are broken, the World Bank could suspend its support for the vaccination program and the response of Lebanon Covid-19 in general.
A World Bank spokeswoman did not answer a question Tuesday about how the bank would handle the incident.
Hwaida Saad contributed to the report.
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