Lebanon’s private sector is stepping in to speed up the vaccination campaign against coronavirus by importing at least 1 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik vaccine
Some 50,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine arrived at Beirut airport around midnight, making Lebanon one of few nations where the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is being boosted by private sector initiatives.
The Pfizer vaccines are funded by the World Bank while AstraZeneca vaccines are provided under the U.N.-backed COVAX program.
Lebanon is currently in the grips of the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history, which has been exacerbated by the lockdown measures related to the pandemic. Tens of thousands have lost their jobs and the local currency has lost 90% of its value against the dollar, leading to inflation and shortages in food products and medicines.
According to the World Bank, more than half the population is now living under the poverty line.
Jacques Sarraf, a Lebanese businessman and head of the Lebanese Russian Business Council, said he hoped the import of the Russian vaccines would help safely reopen businesses around the country.
“Our first target will be private companies, factories, banks and this is important to reactivate institutions,” he told The Associated Press in an interview.
Sarraf, who played a major role in bringing the Sputnik V vaccines to Lebanon, said priority will be given for employees at companies and business institutions.
Sarraf said Lebanon will be receiving between 100,000-200,000 doses every three weeks until the 1 million is reached.