Lebanese company to import one million Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccines to boost inoculation drive

Less than 2 per cent of Lebanon's population has received a vaccine dose

epa09033428 A health worker prepares to inject a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during a nationwide vaccination campaign, at the Saint George Hospital University Medical Center (Al-Roum hospital) at Ashrafieh area in Beirut, Lebanon, 24 February 2021. The World Bank warned that it may halt funding for Lebanon’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign after 16 lawmakers and five of their staff members were vaccinated inside the Lebanese parliament building on 23 February, violating regulations which aim to keep the process fair and transparent.  EPA/WAEL HAMZEH
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Lebanese pharmaceutical company Pharmaline will import one million doses of the Sputnik V Covid19 vaccine under the authorisation of the Ministry of Public Health.

The batch is expected to arrive in the coming days and will be enough to vaccinate 500,000 people in the country of six million residents, including refugees.

Distribution of the vaccines will be administered by the health ministry, said Nicholas Nahas, a Lebanese member of parliament and independent member of the board of directors of Malia Group, under which Pharmaline operates.

Mr Nahas told The National that the price of the vaccine on the market will be "very competitive". Government-provided vaccines are being administered free of charge.

Lebanon is struggling with slow vaccine administration – only about 3 per cent of the population has received a dose.

The health ministry said it plans to inoculate up to 80 per cent of the population by the end of 2021.

Lebanon's parliamentary health committee met on Thursday with the health minister, the head of Lebanon's vaccination campaign, a WHO representative, and representatives for international vaccine manufacturers to discuss how to speed up the country's vaccination drive.

"We need to vaccinate up to 85 per cent of the population to reach herd immunity," said Assem Araji, head of Lebanon's parliamentary health committee. "People should adhere to safety measures as well."

As of Thursday night, 952,576 people were registered for the vaccine on Lebanon's interministerial platform; 127,261 vaccines have been administered, and 36,966 people received both doses of the vaccine.