Lebanon launches COVID vaccine drive, PM to wait ‘turn’: Live | Coronavirus pandemic News

After a sharp rise in COVID infections, Lebanon starts vaccine drive as PM Hassan Diab says he will wait his ‘turn’.

  • Lebanon has started its COVID-19 vaccination campaign, shortly after it received 28,500 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – the first of incoming batches.
  • Lebanon has been under a 24-hour curfew for nearly a month after a sharp rise in infections, although the government began lifting some restrictions this week.
  • Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases globally has gone past 108 million, with deaths exceeding 2.3 million. More than 60 million people have recovered, according to data published by Johns Hopkins University in the United States.

Here are all the latest updates:

Japan approves first vaccine with Olympics in sight

Japan approved its first coronavirus vaccine, clearing the way for mass inoculations as the nation prepares to host the postponed 2020 Olympics.

“The health minister today gave a special approval to the Pfizer vaccine,” the prime minister’s office said in a tweet.

Japan is now expected to put the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the arms of 10,000 to 20,000 medical workers from as early as Wednesday, before making it and other coronavirus vaccines available for more medical workers and the elderly from April.

The government is yet to outline the exact rollout schedule for the rest of its population of 126 million people.

Olympics officials have insisted that the Tokyo Games will take place even though COVID-19 continues to affect the entire world.

Lebanon starts its vaccination drive

Lebanon has started its COVID-19 vaccination drive by inoculating the head of critical care at its biggest public hospital, followed by 93-year-old celebrated Lebanese actor and comedian Salah Tizani.

Battling a sharp spike in infections in recent weeks which has overwhelmed its healthcare system, Lebanon received delivery of 28,500 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Saturday, the first batch of 2.1 million doses set to arrive in stages throughout the year.

“I will not be receiving the vaccine today, for today is not my turn and the priority is for the medical sector that has done its duty and presented big sacrifices,” caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab told reporters at the Rafik Hariri hospital, where Lebanon’s first coronavirus case was quarantined about a year ago.

EU to speed up approval of variant-modified vaccines

The European Union will fast track approvals of coronavirus vaccines adapted to combat mutations, the bloc’s Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in a newspaper interview.

“We have now decided that a vaccine that has been improved by the manufacturer on the basis of the previous vaccine to combat new mutations no longer has to go through the entire approval process,” she told Bavaria’s Augsburger Allgemeine.

“So it will be faster to have suitable vaccines available without compromising on safety.”

The European Commission has come under fire from EU member states over delays to deliveries of vaccines which has seen the bloc lag behind countries such as the United Kingdom, a former member, and the United States.


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