BREAKING NEWS
newsdailyFebruary 23, 2021
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BEIRUT : The World Bank threatened Tuesday to suspend financing for coronavirus vaccines in Lebanon over what it said were violations by members of parliament who were inoculated without registering in advance.

Such a move by the World Bank would have grave consequences as Lebanon struggles through severe financial and economic crises and is in desperate need of aid. The World Bank said last month it approved $34 million to help pay for vaccines for Lebanon to inoculate over 2 million people. The vaccination campaign began Feb. 14 and Lebanon has so far received nearly 60,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The World Bank and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have signed an agreement for independent monitoring of Lebanon’s coronavirus vaccination campaign.

“There were many violations that took place at vaccination centers,” said Sharaf Abu Sharaf, president of Lebanese Order of Physicians. He said the violations included vaccinating people who were not registered or not included in the first phase of the campaign.

Lebanon is notorious for corruption and nepotism, which has brought the Mediterranean nation to the brink of bankruptcy.

The vaccination of lawmakers at a building used by the legislature to hold meetings raised anger among the country’s population. Many have lost faith in the corrupt political class blamed for many of the country’s problems.

Abdul Rahman Bizri, who heads the committee supervising the vaccination campaign, had planned to resign in protest Tuesday but changed his mind, saying his committee will hold a meeting Wednesday to follow up the case.

He added that an explanation is needed from the legislature. “What happened today is outrageous and should not be repeated,” Bizri said. “There is no political priority.” Bizri said that before he held the news conference he discussed the matter with the regional director of the World Bank.

“Everyone has to register and wait for their turn! #nowasta,” the World Bank’s regional director, Saroj Kumar Jha, tweeted. He used a Lebanese term meaning there should not be nepotism.

Parliament’s secretary general, Adnan Daher, was quoted by state media as denying the 16 legislators had jumped the line, which prioritizes medical workers and residents at least 75 years old. Daher said all of the legislators who received an inoculation had registered and were properly in line.

Some of the legislators inoculated Tuesday are younger than 75, according to names leaked to local media, including Deputy Parliament Speaker Elie Ferzli who is 71. Ferzli confirmed in a tweet that he registered to take the vaccine in late January.

In January, Lebanon’s government launched a digital coronavirus vaccination registration platform to people living in the tiny nation.

The World Bank “may suspend financing for vaccines and support for COVID19 response across Lebanon!!” Jha tweeted. “I appeal to all, I mean all, regardless of your position, to please register and wait for your turn.”

Jha said the vaccination plan “is not in line with the national plan agreed with @WorldBank and we would record it (as a) breach of terms and conditions agreed with us for fair and equitable vaccination.”

Lebanon, a country of 6 million people including a million Syrian refugees, has registered more than 356,000 coronavirus cases and 4,387 deaths since the first case was registered in February last year.–AP


newsdailyNovember 16, 2020
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The U.S company Moderna, which is working on Covid Vaccine,  said on Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine is proving to be highly effective in a major trial, the second dash of hope in the global race for a shot to tame a resurgent virus that is now killing more than 8,000 people a day worldwide.

The company said its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from Moderna’s ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared similarly effective news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S.

The results are “truly striking,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious diseases expert. Earlier this year, Fauci said he would be happy with a COVID-19 vaccine that was 60% effective.

A vaccine can’t come fast enough, as virus cases topped 11 million in the U.S. over the weekend 1 million of them recorded in just the past week and governors and mayors are ratcheting up restrictions ahead of Thanksgiving. The pandemic has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, over 245,000 of them in the U.S.

Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna’s president, welcomed the “really important milestone” but said having similar results from two different companies is what’s most reassuring.

“That should give us all hope that actually a vaccine is going to be able to stop this pandemic and hopefully get us back to our lives,” Hoge told The Associated Press. He added: “It won’t be Moderna alone that solves this problem. It’s going to require many vaccines” to meet the global demand.

The National Institutes of Health helped create the vaccine Moderna is manufacturing, and NIH’s director, Dr. Francis Collins, said the exciting news from two companies “gives us a lot of confidence that we’re on the path towards having effective vaccines.”

But “we’re also at this really dark time,” he warned, saying people can’t let down their guard during the months it will take for doses of any vaccines cleared by the Food and Drug Administration to start reaching a large share of the population.

If the FDA allows emergency use of Moderna’s or Pfizer’s candidate, there will be limited, rationed supplies before the end of the year.

Both vaccines require people to get two shots, several weeks apart. U.S. officials said they hope to have about 20 million Moderna doses and another 20 million doses of the vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech to use in late December.

Moderna’s vaccine is being studied in 30,000 volunteers who received either the real thing or a dummy shot. On Sunday, an independent monitoring board examined 95 infections that were recorded after volunteers’ second dose, and they discovered all but five illnesses occurred in participants who got the placebo.

The study is continuing, and Moderna acknowledged the protection rate might change as more COVID-19 infections are detected. Also, it’s too soon to know how long protection lasts. Both cautions apply to Pfizer’s vaccine as well.–AP

 



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