Lebanon’s health minister says his country has reserved nearly 2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to fight the coronavirus, an amount that covers up to 20% of Lebanese.
Hamad Hassan says in a news conference his government has been negotiating with the company to acquire the vaccines and that they are expected to be in Lebanon by February. The deal is expected to be signed Monday.
Assem Araji, the lawmaker who heads the parliamentary health committee, says the deal being negotiated is for $18 a dose, a price that takes into consideration Lebanon’s economic troubles. The $27 million deal would secure 1.5 million vaccines while the country negotiates to receive closer to 2 million.
Araji tells The Associated Press the government is to pay a $4 million deposit at signing. It hopes to cover the rest with a World Bank loan that has been diverted to cover expenses related to the pandemic.
Lebanon has also signed up for another 1.5 million vaccines with COVAX, the World Health Organization-led partnership with humanitarian organizations that aims to provide vaccines for up to 20% of the population of poor countries hit hard by the pandemic. Lebanon has deposited $4.3 million to secure the COVAX vaccines, Araji says.
Both vaccines would be offered for free in Lebanon.
Commercially, hospitals and pharmacies can provide their own vaccines, Araji says.
Lebanon has a population of nearly 6 million, including over 1 million Syrian refugees. Araji says UN agencies would cover the refugee population.