President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, on Monday met Public Health Minister, Hamad Hassan, at the Presidential Palace.
Minister Hassan thanked the President for giving his Ministry permission to negotiate Pfizer company to secure the vaccine against Corona pandemic, and providing him with the necessary directions to conclude an agreement with the aforementioned company to achieve this goal.
During the meeting, Minister Hassan stated that a committee has been formed to ensure that the vaccine reaches the approved vaccination centers in an efficient and equal manner, reassuring that “There will be transparency and security, military, and community support in order to actually achieve the goals for which we sacrifice, at this difficult time”.
The meeting was attended by President Aoun’s Advisor, former Minister Salim Jreisatti, President Aoun’s Medical Affairs’ Advisor, Dr. Walid Khoury, and Director-General of the Lebanese Presidency, Dr. Antoine Choucair.
Health Minister’s Statement:
After the meeting, Minister Hassan made the following statement:
“It is one of the supervising, responsible and wise stations which we accomplish today, under the directions and support of His Excellency the President of the Republic, through permission to directly negotiate with Pfizer company, to secure the vaccine as quickly as possible while providing all financial and material funds to conclude the agreement as soon as possible as well. Despite all challenges and interpretations, and despite everything that is being marketed in the media against the vaccine, against the Government or against the Presidential term, we say that what we are achieving today is a response with actions and not words, because the health authority, with the support of His Excellency The President of the Republic, and the Prime Minister, has taken the appropriate decision to cover Lebanese society with the Pfizer vaccine. The Government adopted this decision, despite the dire and difficult conditions in which we live, aiming to reach social immunity, starting from mid-February, God willing, and we know all the economic, living and social challenges. We know that the life and economic cycle cannot flourish without insuring its health. From here, the most important positive responsibility is fulfilled today through the provision of this vaccine. As we promised, the Lebanese state will secure it fairly and free of charge for the target classes and groups in accordance with international medical standards, with Lebanese privacy. Everything that is raised through social media should not be of interest to me as a civil society, and we must never miss the target of all this effort and support His Excellency the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Health in order to protect human beings in these difficult circumstances.
We have taken permission from His Excellency the President today to negotiate in order to conclude the contract, and later we will take the observations of the Legislation and Consultation Authority regarding the possibility of introducing some amendments to the contract with the Pfizer company and concluding it as quickly as required. Today, in the Ministry of Public Health, we have the National Center for “PharmaCo Vigilance” to note the possibility of any limited side complications that are noted in some countries. I would like to point out that adopting the vaccine in the United States, Britain, Germany and some Arab countries gives more security to society and not the other way around. I would like to reassure society that not always what the state does should be questionable. Rather, this step that we are taking today must be trusted by what the state is doing towards civil society, and it is all based on reliable scientific data and not the result of some erroneous information”.
Questions & Answers:
In response to a question, Minister Hassanexplained that, “The quantity that was seized by Pfizer is 15% of the number of Lebanese residents, or about two million doses covering one million citizens. We have previously signed a contract with the Kovax platform to cover 20% of the Lebanese community. We are talking about two million and 800 thousand vaccines. From here, with those who have secured so far from community immunity, gradually, who are infected and who have acquired immunity, we are facing 15 to 17% and may reach 20% by next spring, so we will be in a total of 50 and 60% of the Lebanese society, if the Pfizer and Kovax vaccine is secured later, with the cumulative number of infections that have achieved community immunity, and we reach 50-60%, and this is a good thing which guarantees the protection of society, to restore the economic and normal life cycle, then we will revive our country and our society”.
As for the proposed amendments to the contract, he indicated, “What is required is two points amendment, as the contract is generalized and all countries adhere to it. As for us, we have two observations: Some countries have a law to protect companies that have a license to use the vaccine in case of emergency, and this is not available in Lebanon, therefore, as a Minister of Public Health, I need protection and support from His Excellency the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister, in the absence of a genuine Government, and this is what happened today. As for the second point, it is that in the event of emergency, there may be some arbitration clauses. The Lebanese citizen, the Lebanese Government takes the authority through the Ministry of Health to be a guarantee for all parties”.
Asked whether we would return to lockdown again after the holidays, Minister Hassan replied “This is a question which is being asked by the media, and if we go back to this decision we will find many complications and difficulties. What decides if we go back or not is the behavior of the society. We hope that our society will be keen on balancing between health and economy”.
Asked about the new wave of Corona in Lebanon, Hassan pointed out that “According to data from research centers, it is confirmed that the Pfizer vaccine covers this new mutation, which means that we are not in the framework of inspecting for a second vaccine, in addition to that until now it has not been proven that there are more complications than we know. Today we had a question in the scientific committee whether the rapid spread in the cases that were recently registered has a relationship with the new wave, because it turned out that this wave started from September 13, not only in Britain but in all of Europe. We are required to adhere to preventive protection measures from the pandemic, which are capable of combating the basic Corona pandemic and any new wave”.
And on how to distribute the first batch of vaccines, the Health Minister indicated that “The National Committee for Management of the Corona Vaccine was formed, chaired by Dr. Abdel Rahman Al-Bizri, with the membership of all unions, societies and medical references, in addition to the President and Prime Minister’s advisors. Through this committee, we aspire to establish a mechanism to ensure that the vaccine fairly reaches the approved vaccination centers so that the poor, and the rich can obtain it free of charge. If we stress the fairness of distribution and the guarantee of equality and effectiveness of the vaccine, which are among the basic standards set by the technical committee. I assure all the Lebanese that there will be transparency and security, military and societal support in order to actually achieve the goals for which we sacrifice at this difficult time”.
The President received several greeting cards from heads of states, on the occasion of Christmas and New Year, most notably from Syrian President, Dr. Bashar Al Assad, and President of the Special Court for Lebanon, Ivana Hardlikova.
Congratulatory telegrams were also received from the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran,Hassan Rouhani, who hoped that “People today, especially followers of divine religions, will be able to follow the path of transcendence and human perfection by drawing inspiration from the sublime teachings of God’s prophets and adhering to their approach”. The Iranian President expressed hope that “Leaders of countries will contribute to work harder to get out of the crises, through determination and joint efforts”.
In addition, the Patriarch of Antioch and rest of the Orient of the Melkite Roman Catholics, wrote in his telegram: “I loved to congratulate your Excellency, and add my prayers to yours and the prayer of the entire Church, so that Immanuelwould change the face of the world and transform humanity, making all people one family”.– Presidency Press Office
Source: National News Agency