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World Bank threatens to suspend covid vaccine funding to Lebanon

Lebanon received its first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine - about 28,000 doses - this month with aid from the World Bank

The World Bank threatened to suspend financing for Lebanon's COVID-19 vaccination drive in its second week after it emerged that some lawmakers would get their shots in parliament yesterday, Reuters reported.

The comments from the World Bank came as frustration grew among some residents and doctors that vaccinations were moving slowly and could be riddled with violations.

Lebanon received its first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – about 28,000 doses – this month with aid from the World Bank, which said it would monitor to ensure the shots go to those most in need.

In its first operation funding the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, the World Bank reallocated $34 million to help Lebanon start vaccinations.

The bank has warned against favouritism in a country where decades of state waste and corruption triggered a dire financial meltdown.

After local media reported that some MPs would get their COVID-19 shots yesterday, the World Bank's Regional Director, Saroj Kumar Jha, said that would breach the national plan agreed for fair vaccination.

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"Upon confirmation of violation, World Bank may suspend financing for vaccines and support for COVID19 response across Lebanon!!" he wrote on Twitter. "I appeal to all, I mean all, regardless of your position, to please register and wait for your turn."

The health ministry has sought to dispel fears that politicians would jump the queue. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sixteen MPs and five parliamentary staff members received the COVID-19 vaccine at Parliament yesterday, the legislature's Secretary-General Adnan Daher told L'Orient Today.

"We vaccinated them so we don't overwhelm hospitals," he added.

The move prompted the head of the country's national vaccination committee, Abdel Rahman Bizri, to announce he would be resigning later in the day, the961 reported, however no further news has been announced on this.

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CoronavirusInternational OrganisationsLebanonMiddle EastNewsVideos & Photo StoriesWorld Bank
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