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Eight universities sign deals to purchase Pfizer vaccines through the Health Ministry

Eight universities sign deals to purchase Pfizer vaccines through the Health Ministry

Eight universities have agreed to buy over 400,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the Health Ministry said. (Credit: Nicolas Tucat/AFP)

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s Health Ministry has signed agreements with eight universities allowing them to privately purchase the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The ministry announced that 410,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be distributed among the eight universities. Academic institutions will pay the Health Ministry for the doses and all those wishing to be inoculated must register on the government’s vaccine platform.

The Pfizer vaccines are set to arrive between July and September, with 320,000 doses divided between St. Joseph University, the American University of Beirut, the Lebanese American University and St. George University Hospital. Fifty thousand doses will also go to the Lebanese University, 15,000 to Beirut Arab University and 10,000 each to Balamand University and Holy Spirit University.

However, based on the statement’s breakdown of the vaccine distribution between universities, there are still 5,000 remaining inoculations. It is unclear whether this is a mathematical error in the statement or if the remaining doses are unaccounted for. The Health Ministry could not be reached for comment.

LAU, which has some 8,000 students currently enrolled, is hoping the vaccine will cover all students and teachers so they are able to reopen once again in September, Georges Ghanem, the chief medical officer at the Lebanese American University Medical Center-Rizk Hospital told L’Orient Today.

The university will be able to purchase the vaccines from the Health Ministry through donations, and the doses will be provided free of charge, Ghanem said. He added that the remaining portion of the vaccines will go to other “residents in Lebanon” who are registered for the vaccine in coordination with the Health Ministry.

“Students and teachers will be registered on the platform. We’re still working out the details,” Ghanem said regarding the rollout plan, adding that “there are priorities, of course by age and by disease.”

The vaccination process for LAU is set to begin in July and is expected to take “two or three months,” Ghanem said.

An AUB spokesperson said the university was not yet able to provide details for the institution’s rollout plan.

Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan said in March that Pfizer had agreed to provide 750,000 doses to the private sector to be made available in June.

Hassan at the time said that academic institutions and professional syndicates would be able to purchase the Pfizer vaccine at $12 per jab. He said the Health Ministry would purchase the doses from Pfizer and that private sector actors could deposit money at the central bank to buy the required doses.

Lebanon’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout so far has been extremely slow, with some 114,000 residents fully vaccinated since the inoculation campaign began two months ago.

Hassan on Friday said the Health Ministry is developing a strategy to introduce countrywide “walk-in” vaccine appointments starting in June in hopes of increasing the number of vaccinations.


BEIRUT — Lebanon’s Health Ministry has signed agreements with eight universities allowing them to privately purchase the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the ministry said in a statement on Friday.The ministry announced that 410,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be distributed among the eight universities. Academic institutions will pay the Health Ministry for the doses and all those...