The World Bank warned that it may halt funding for Lebanon’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign amid allegations that members of parliament are jumping the line to receive their jabs.
On Tuesday, 16 lawmakers and five of their staff members were vaccinated at the parliament, despite a rollout plan that prioritizes health workers, the elderly, epidemiological staff and people 55 and older with medical conditions. Adnan Daher, the parliament’s secretary-general, dismissed favoritism allegations, telling L’Orient Today that “anyone who was vaccinated under 75 has illnesses confirmed by a doctor’s note.”
When announcing a $34 million loan to cover vaccines in Lebanon last month, the World Bank called for transparency in the distribution process. The Bank’s regional director, Saroj Kumar Jha, tweeted on Tuesday that there could be consequences if people don’t wait their turn.
“Upon confirmation of violation, World Bank may suspend financing for vaccines and support for COVID19 response across Lebanon!!” he wrote in a tweet that has since been deleted. “I appeal to all, I mean all, regardless of your position, to please register and wait for your turn.”
Earlier this month, the small Mediterranean country received its first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The 28,500 doses, which were shipped from Brussels to the Beirut airport on Feb. 13, are among the 2.1 million Lebanon will get incrementally throughout the year.