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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 4 March 2021

Lebanese President Michel Aoun and wife vaccinated against coronavirus

Media office confirms inoculations after 16 MPs broke protocol by having the Covid-19 shots

A medical professional prepares a syringe of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Beirut. EPA
A medical professional prepares a syringe of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Beirut. EPA

Lebanese President Michel Aoun, his wife and 10 people within his close circle were immunised against Covid-19, his office confirmed on Twitter.

Mr Aoun is 86 years old.

Local media reported that a medical team visited the presidential palace in Baabda on Friday and administered shots to the president, his wife and members of his entourage.

Mr Aoun's office did not confirm a date or give the names and ages of those vaccinated from his team.

A presidential palace source said they were vaccinated because they were in close contact with the president.

This confirmation comes after 16 members of Parliament were immunised on Tuesday morning, causing outrage for flouting protocol.

As a result of the breach, the World Bank told leaders it could cut off much-needed funding for the country’s Covid-19 vaccination drive, having previously pledged $34 million under the Lebanon Health Resilience Project.

The World Bank’s regional director, Saroj Kumar Jha, said giving priority to the MPs “is not in line with the national plan agreed with @WorldBank” and would be recorded as a “breach of terms and conditions”.

While initial news reports said all of the inoculated MPs were over 75, the Parliament’s Secretary General, Adnan Daher, later said only MPs aged 70 or above were vaccinated after having been registered on the ministerial platform.

Anis Nassar, one of those inoculated, said he had received a call from the Parliament on Monday night to tell him of his appointment the next morning.

“I was not aware of any violations and if so, I apologise, although I am not responsible for what happened,” Mr Nassar wrote on Twitter.

When told of favouritism in the vaccination drive, Abdul Rahman Bizri, head of Lebanon’s national Covid-19 committee, said he would resign. But he later said he would continue his work in the programme.

“What happened was unacceptable,” Mr Bizri said.

He demanded answers as to why MPs received preferential treatment.

While Lebanon’s ruling elite received their first vaccine doses, eligible citizens are still waiting in line.

“My grandmother is 89 years old and she has yet to receive a vaccine appointment,” said Batoul Hachem, a young Lebanese woman who is fed up with corruption.

“How are these MPs more important than her?”

Updated: February 24, 2021 12:36 AM

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