| 23 February 2024, Friday |

Supreme Islamic Shiite Council rejects Hassan’s initiative

The Supreme Islamic Shiite Council rejected on Friday an attempt to give the heads of spiritual authorities some preferences over Lebanese citizens in receiving COVID-19 vaccine shots.

In a statement, the council rejected an initiative launched by caretaker Minister of Health, Hamad Hassan, as he toured Lebanese spiritual authorities, whereby he suggested vaccinating them.

“We had never asked the ministry of health to exclude the council from protocols being applied for the vaccination of Lebanese citizens,” the council said.

It added that Shiite religious scholars in Lebanon will receive vaccinations in due course according to the plan of the ministry of health as indicated on its electronic platform.

The World Bank threatened on Tuesday to suspend financing for Lebanon’s COVID-19 vaccination drive in its second week after it emerged that some lawmakers would get their shots in parliament on Tuesday.

The comments from the World Bank came as frustration grew among some residents and doctors that vaccinations were moving slowly and could be riddled with violations.

The bank has warned against favoritism in a country where decades of state waste and corruption triggered a dire financial meltdown.

After local media reported that some MPs would get their COVID-19 shots on Tuesday, the World Bank’s regional director, Saroj Kumar Jha, said that would breach the national plan agreed for fair vaccination.

Hassan said on Wednesday he took a “sovereign decision” as he instructed medical teams to head to the parliament in order to vaccinate lawmakers “in appreciation of their efforts because the parliament convened during 7 consecutive days and passed the law for the emergency use of the vaccine.”

He added that the reactions to this incident were exaggerated.