Jordan begins COVID-19 vaccination drive as physician, 87, gets first jab

Jordan begins COVID-19 vaccination drive as physician, 87, gets first jab
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Dawood Hananiah, receives the first COVID-19 vaccine in Jordan, at a medical center in Amman. (Reuters)
An elderly man receives a vaccination against COVID-19 in Salt, Jordan. (Raed Omari)
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An elderly man receives a vaccination against COVID-19 in Salt, Jordan. (Raed Omari)
Pic 3: Patients are vaccinated against COVID-19 in Salt, Jordan on the first day of the kingdom’s inoculation campaign. (Raed Omari)
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Pic 3: Patients are vaccinated against COVID-19 in Salt, Jordan on the first day of the kingdom’s inoculation campaign. (Raed Omari)
Jordan begins COVID-19 vaccination drive as physician, 87, gets first jab
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The first injections were given at hospitals and other health care facilities, after the authorities designated 29 vaccination centers across Jordan. (AP)
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Updated 13 January 2021

Jordan begins COVID-19 vaccination drive as physician, 87, gets first jab

Jordan begins COVID-19 vaccination drive as physician, 87, gets first jab
  • Dawood Hanania urges Jordanians to follow suit to help country bring virus cases under control
  • Around 68,000 people will receive vaccine in campaign’s first phase

AMMAN: An 87-year-old former army physician on Wednesday received the first shot in Jordan’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination program.

Retired Lt. Gen. Dawood Hanania was given his jab at 8 a.m. at a vaccination center in the Jubaihah neighborhood of the capital Amman, signaling the start of a mass immunization effort to curb the spread of the virus that has killed more than 4,000 people in Jordan.

Hanania, a former Royal Medical Services director, told national news agency Petra: “Jordanians are now en route out of the pandemic.” He said that after consulting with international research centers and had been “strongly” advised to take the vaccine.

In preparation for the rollout of its vaccination program, Jordan launched an online platform for people to register for jabs.

Brig. Gen. Mazen Faraiah, head of the department responsible for COVID-19-related issues at the National Center for Security and Crisis Management, said 68,000 people would receive the vaccine in the campaign’s first phase, adding that 201,144 had already registered for the jab.

Health officials are aiming to inoculate about 2 million of Jordan’s 10 million population through the nationwide vaccination drive.

“The campaign is progressing steadily and smoothly,” said Health Minister Nathir Obeidat, adding that around 5,000 people every day would receive shots at the country’s 29 vaccination centers. Previously the minister said that the elderly, doctors, and nurses would be first in line for the vaccine.

Obeidat recently pointed out that Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh and several other members of the government had received the China-UAE Sinopharm vaccine during its testing phase.

“The vaccines that have been bought for the vaccination campaign in the Kingdom are all safe and effective … I myself took the vaccine,” he said, urging more Jordanians to come forward.

Jordan received its first shipments of Sinopharm on Saturday and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Monday – the two vaccines so far approved by the Jordan Food and Drug Administration for emergency use.

Obeidat said that the amounts of contracted COVID-19 vaccines would be enough to treat 20 percent of the country’s population, and that there was no ceiling for ordering more if the demand was there. In December, he noted that the vaccine would be given free of charge to foreign residents as well as Jordanians.

Abu Ahmad, who is in his 70s and received the COVID-19 vaccine at a center in Salt city, about 15 km west of Amman, told Arab News: “I feel safer now after taking the shot. I want to live the remaining years of my life with no fear of the corona.”

Jordan has to date recorded 309,846 COVID-19 cases and 4,076 virus-related deaths.


Rouhani to sue Iran state broadcaster over opium use comments

Ahmed Jahan Bozorgi, a cleric and member of an Islamic think tank, said Hassan Rouhani (pictured) could often not be reached by members of the Iranian Cabinet because he was at home smoking opium. (Reuters/File Photo)
Ahmed Jahan Bozorgi, a cleric and member of an Islamic think tank, said Hassan Rouhani (pictured) could often not be reached by members of the Iranian Cabinet because he was at home smoking opium. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 55 min 5 sec ago

Rouhani to sue Iran state broadcaster over opium use comments

Ahmed Jahan Bozorgi, a cleric and member of an Islamic think tank, said Hassan Rouhani (pictured) could often not be reached by members of the Iranian Cabinet because he was at home smoking opium. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • President accused of taking drugs by hardline cleric during live broadcast
  • Latest example of pressure being applied on moderates ahead of June presidential elections

LONDON: Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran, is to sue his country’s state broadcaster after he was accused of opium use on national television.

On Friday, the president’s office of legal affairs said Rouhani would pursue damages for defamation after Ahmed Jahan Bozorgi, a cleric and member of an Islamic think tank, said Rouhani could often not be reached by members of the Iranian Cabinet because he was at home smoking the drug. 

Alireza Moezi, on behalf of Rouhani’s office, said: “What was broadcast last night was sadly just shameless insult, slander and foul language against the president.”

The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Corporation, which is controlled by the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Bozorgi’s institute, which frequently advises the Iranian government, both subsequently distanced themselves from the comments. 

The incident, though, is seen by many as an attempt to undermine Rouhani, a relative moderate in Iranian politics, and his allies by conservative hardliners ahead of the country’s presidential elections later this year.

Rouhani, who will stand down having served two terms, has presided over a period of increasing tensions with the US during the sole term of President Donald Trump, a period in which the hardliners have made significant political gains, whilst failing to oust the president himself.

On Wednesday, Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Communications Minister Mohammad Azari Jahromi were summoned to Parliament to face questions over their relationship with recently-installed US President Joe Biden.

Rouhani said he hoped that US sanctions on Iran would soon be lifted, amid hopes that a change of president in the US could see a return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or “Iran Nuclear Deal,” that was sidelined by the US under Trump.

Such a sequence of events, it is thought, would give Rouhani and his allies a significant political win in the build up to the June elections. The move is opposed by the hardliners, though, who favor a stronger stance on the US.

“We do not need the nuclear deal anymore. Our strength comes from the fact that we have kept our existence without it,” said Hossein Salami, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

One radical member of parliament, meanwhile, said Iran should look to “impeach” Rouhani, following the example of Democrat senators in the US towards Trump, amid claims the trio were “friends” of the new administration in Washington.