18:00 GMT06 March 2021
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    BEIRUT (Sputnik) - Lebanon expects to procure Russia's coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V through private companies, as the country will not be able to allocate public funds for this purpose, Assem Araji, the head of the Lebanese parliament's health committee, told Sputnik.

    "We plan to import the Russian Sputnik V vaccine after permission for its use in the country has been issued, but we hope that the import will be carried out through private companies and donors since the Ministry of Health does not have the opportunity to spend funds on purchasing the vaccine", Araji said.

    The lawmaker also noted the effectiveness of the Russian vaccine and the benefit of having various vaccines available for use.

    In early February, a scientific commission under the Lebanese Health Ministry approved the use of Russia's Sputnik V. Lebanese Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe asked the Russian government to provide 200,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine in the form of assistance, the Lebanese Foreign Ministry said.

    Medical staff members work at an intensive care unit for patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Rafik Hariri University Hospital, in Beirut, Lebanon 21 January 2021.
    © REUTERS / Emilie Madi
    Medical staff members work at an intensive care unit for patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Rafik Hariri University Hospital, in Beirut, Lebanon 21 January 2021.

    Lebanon has already ordered 6 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, with the first batch of 28,500 doses delivered to the country on Saturday. Apart from that, AstraZeneca is expected to deliver its vaccine starting in March.

    Lebanon is facing a long-term political crisis exacerbated by political instability and the massive blast that rocked the Beirut port last August. Since early 2021, the country has also seen a surge in the number of both COVID-19 cases and related fatalities. So far, nearly 337,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed. The death toll has topped 3,900, while more than 226,600 people have recovered.

    On Sunday, Lebanon will launch its mass vaccination campaign covering both permanent residents and Palestinian and Syrian refugees living in the country.

    Tags:
    coronavirus, COVID-19, Sputnik V, Lebanon, Russia
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