Lebanon launches ‘vaccine marathon’ to fight Astrazeneca rumors

Lebanon launches ‘vaccine marathon’ to fight Astrazeneca rumors
A Lebanese health worker prepares a shot of the Covid-19 AstraZeneca vaccine in Beirut on March 29, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 25 May 2021

Lebanon launches ‘vaccine marathon’ to fight Astrazeneca rumors

Lebanon launches ‘vaccine marathon’ to fight Astrazeneca rumors
  • Reports said that a man died three days after receiving an AstraZeneca vaccine

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Ministry of Health will launch a “vaccination marathon” next Saturday for people aged over 30 to receive Astrazeneca jabs in health centers across the country.

In an effort to promote mass vaccination, Lebanese authorities will declare the province where the largest number of people receive vaccinations as the winner of the marathon.

A significant number of Lebanese citizens have refused to receive vaccines produced by AstraZeneca, despite receiving text messages outlining appointment dates.

It comes after viral news circulated that purported to show dangerous side effects of the vaccine, including risks of stroke and death.

Reports said that a man died three days after receiving an AstraZeneca vaccine. However, Hamad Hasan, Lebanon’s health minister, said that an investigation into the case “is still underway.”

Another eight other people were also reported dead after receiving the vaccine, but “whether their deaths were linked to the vaccine” is another question, Hasan added.

A health ministry study estimated that herd immunity reached 42 percent among Lebanese citizens and about 47 percent among Palestinian refugees in the country.

“This means that the herd immunity rate is rising to 50 percent, and is expected to reach about 75 percent in August, with large quantities of vaccines expected to be delivered,” said Hasan.

Lebanon is due to receive 2 million vaccines in June and July.

Dr. Abdul Rahman Bizri, head of the National Committee for the Administration of the Coronavirus Vaccine, told Arab News: “A high percentage of those registered to take the vaccine refrained from taking AstraZeneca. As part of our initiatives to encourage people to get vaccinated, we organized an open day enabling citizens to receive the vaccine without booking an appointment.”

Bizri said that a new Lebanese study showed an improved presence of antibodies among the population, but that total immunity had not yet been achieved. “The result should not make us feel reassured, as we need to continue to abide by the precautionary measures,” he added.

He said: “Lebanon is buying vaccines from the state treasury and will give priority to Pfizer vaccines.”

Daily COVID-19 case numbers in Lebanon have fallen significantly, with just 150 cases and seven deaths recorded on Monday.

However, Hasan warned against “gradually slipping away from preventive measures, which will make Lebanon return to the danger zone and the July 2020 scenario, when Lebanon began to lose control.”

During the summer season, Lebanon is expected to receive a surge of holidaymakers. Hasan warned tourists to avoid repeating the mistakes that could push Lebanon into a renewed wave of outbreaks.

According to government data, the total number of people who have registered to receive a vaccine reached 433,889, including 113,179 health workers. The vast majority of people were from the Beirut and Mount Lebanon regions, while the number of people registering from the Bekaa, North and South provinces was much lower.

More than 500,000 registered people have received a Pfizer vaccine, while only 85,880 received AstraZeneca’s jab. A further 54,105 people received Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, and 6,093 Lebanese were inoculated with China’s Sinopharm.

From February 2020 to Monday, Lebanon has registered 538,668 COVID-19 cases.

“Positive epidemiological indicators continue to improve, with tests currently positive at 4 percent compared with the previous 22 percent, and the mortality rate has fallen from nine per 1,000 to nine per 3,000,” Hasan said.

This week, Lebanon’s health ministry began vaccinating public sector employees. About 900,000 people have registered on the country’s e-platform, but are yet to receive a vaccination. The ministry expects that all the people registered on the platform will receive a first Pfizer dose by the end of June.

The private sector has helped speed up the inoculation process by vaccinating employees of companies, institutions, factories and banks, with political parties also vaccinating supporters.


Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate

Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate
Updated 43 sec ago

Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate

Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate
  • South Sinai is the governorate with the fewest COVID-19 cases and deaths, as well as the highest recovery and vaccination rate among people aged 18 and over
  • South Sinai, where the town of Sharm El-Sheikh is located, is one of the most famous tourist governorates in Egypt

CAIRO: Officials in South Sinai have announced that it has become the first governorate in Egypt whose eligible population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

According to health sources, it is the governorate with the fewest COVID-19 cases and deaths, as well as the highest recovery and vaccination rate among people aged 18 and over — the allowed age for inoculation. 

South Sinai, where the town of Sharm El-Sheikh is located, is one of the most famous tourist governorates in Egypt. It also includes famous religious sites such as Mount El-Tur and St. Catherine’s Monastery.

Maj. Gen. Khaled Fouda, governor of South Sinai, said there have only been 81 deaths from COVID-19 there since the start of the pandemic — the lowest rate among Egypt’s governorates. 

He added that South Sinai recorded only one case on Sunday night after recording no cases for two weeks in a row, bringing the total number of cases to 1,371 since the start of the pandemic, with only 29 hospitalizations. 


10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF

10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF
Updated 19 October 2021

10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF

10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF
  • Four out of every five children need humanitarian assistance in Yemen

GENEVA: Ten thousand Yemeni children have been killed after the Iran-aligned Houthi group ousted the government in 2015, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said on Tuesday.
“The Yemen conflict has just hit another shameful milestone. We now have 10,000 children who have been killed or maimed since ... March 2015,” UNICEF spokesperson James Elder told a UN briefing in Geneva after returning from a visit to Yemen.
“That is the equivalent of four children every single day,” Elder said, adding that many more child deaths or injuries went unreported.
Four out of every five children — a total of 11 million — need humanitarian assistance in Yemen, while 400,000 are suffering from acute malnutrition and more than 2 million are out of school, Elder said.
UN-led efforts to engineer a nationwide cease-fire have stalled as the Houthis resist compromise to end more than six years of a war that has caused what the UN calls the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
Hundreds of Yemenis are trapped by fierce fighting between government and Houthi forces in the northern Marib governorate, residents and a local official said last week, after battles for control of the gas-rich region displaced some 10,000 people.


Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister

Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister
Updated 19 October 2021

Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister

Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister

DUBAI: Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has appointed Ali Bin Ahmad Al-Kuwari as finance minister in a government reshuffle, according to a statement issued by the emiri court on Tuesday.

Al-Kuwari had been serving as commerce and industry minister and as acting finance minister before the reshuffle.

Qatar's emir created an environment and climate change ministry on Tuesday, naming Faleh bin Nasser al-Thani as its minister. 

Two women were handed cabinet posts for education and social development. They join Health Minister Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, who had been the only woman in the cabinet.

 

(with Reuters)


Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo

Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo
Updated 19 October 2021

Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo

Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo
  • There were 2.1 million aircraft passengers in July

CAIRO: There were 18,500 flights into and out of Egypt in July compared to 6,500 in the same month last year, an increase of 185 percent, according to the country’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.

In June there were some 14,000 flights, compared to 500 in the same month last year.

There were 2.1 million aircraft passengers in July, more than quadruple the 500,000 passengers in the same month last year.

In June there were 1.6 million passengers, compared to 300,000 in the same month last year.

There were 19,200 tons of cargo transported by plane in July compared to 16,700 in the same month last year, an increase of 13 percent.

In June 21,300 tons were transported compared to 16,100 in the same month last year, an increase of 32 percent.


Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue

Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue
Updated 19 October 2021

Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue

Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue

CAIRO: Lebanon's parliament voted on Tuesday to hold legislative elections on March 27, parliamentary sources said, giving Prime Minister Najib Mikati's government only a few months to try to secure an IMF recovery plan amid a deepening economic meltdown.
Lebanon's financial crisis, labelled by the World Bank as one of the deepest depressions of modern history, had been compounded by political deadlock for over a year before Mikati put together a cabinet alongside President Michel Aoun.
The currency has lost 90% of its value and three quarters of the population have been propelled into poverty. Shortages of basic goods such as fuel and medicines have made daily life a struggle.
Mikati, whose cabinet is focused on reviving talks with the International Monetary Fund, had vowed to make sure elections are held with no delay and Western governments urged the same.
But a row over the probe into last year's Beirut port blast that killed over 200 people and destroyed large swathes of the capital is threatening to veer his cabinet off course.
Some ministers, aligned with politicians that lead investigator Judge Tarek Bitar is seeking to question over the explosion, last week demanded that the judge be removed from the probe.
Mikati has since said the cabinet will not convene another meeting until an agreement is reached on how to deal with the matter.
On Thursday, Beirut witnessed the worst street violence in over a decade with seven people killed in gunfire when protesters from the Hezbollah and Amal Shi'ite movements made their way to demonstrate against Judge Bitar.
The bloodshed, which stirred memories of the 1975-1990 civil war, added to fears for the stability of a country that is awash with weapons.
The early election date - elections were originally expected to be held in May - was chosen in order not to clash with the holy Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.
Once a new parliament is elected, the Mikati cabinet will only act in a caretaker role until a new prime minister is given a vote of confidence and tasked with forming a new government.