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Lebanon signs with Pfizer for 2.1 million vaccine doses

A nurse in protective clothing holds coronavirus testing material, at a center in the Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon, January 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
A nurse in protective clothing holds coronavirus testing material, at a center in the Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon, January 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Lebanon finalizes a deal with Pfizer for 2.1 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine amid a surge in infections that has overwhelmed the country’s health care system.

The doses are to arrive in Lebanon starting early February, according to Lebanon’s health ministry.

The government’s statement says the Pfizer vaccines will be complemented with another 2.7 million doses from the UN-led program to provide for countries in need. It gives no date for when those doses are expected to arrive but says the agreement was signed in October.

A lawmaker earlier told The Associated Press the Pfizer deal being negotiated is for $18 a dose, a price that takes into consideration Lebanon’s economic troubles, and is expected to cover 20% of the population for free.

Another 2 million doses are being negotiated in coordination with Lebanon’s private sector and the other international pharmaceutical companies that have developed the vaccines, the ministry says. It names Oxford-Astrazeneca and China’s Sinopharm as the international sources.

Israel and the Gulf countries were the first in the Middle East to secure vaccines and begin inoculating their populations.

Lebanon, a country of more than 6 million, including at least 1 million refugees and their descendants, has seen a massive climb in infections since Christmas and New Year holidays. The surge has overwhelmed hospitals and the health care system.

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