Hassan Says He Took 'Sovereign Decision' to Vaccinate MPs


Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan broke his silence Wednesday evening over the controversy sparked by the vaccination of around two dozen MPs and parliament employees in apparent disregard for the national queue and the country’s electronic registration platform.

Speaking in an interview with state-run Tele Liban, Hassan said he took a “sovereign decision” by asking medical teams to head to parliament to vaccinate the lawmakers “in appreciation of their efforts, after parliament convened for seven consecutive days to approve the vaccine’s emergency use law.”

“There is a mobile clinic at the Health Ministry which will move between state institutions… and I will also visit the religious authorities to give them the vaccine the same as I gave it to MPs,” the minister added.

Noting that the age range of the MPs who received the vaccine was “not against logic,” Hassan described the uproar over the issue as “exaggerated” and “out of proportion.”

He added: “The ministerial (anti-Covid) committee has jurisdiction and the head of the vaccine national committee Abdul Rahman al-Bizri is part of a consultative committee but the ministerial committee is the one that takes decisions.”

As for the vaccines received by President Michel Aoun, First Lady Nadia Aoun and at least 10 of the president’s aides, Hassan said: “The vaccine received by President Michel Aoun is the same vaccine received by citizens in the Bekaa, Akkar, Beirut, the South and all Lebanese regions. This is justice.”

The World Bank had threatened Tuesday to suspend financing for coronavirus vaccines in Lebanon over what it said were suspected violations by lawmakers who were inoculated in parliament.

Such a move by the World Bank would have grave consequences as Lebanon struggles through severe financial and economic crises and is in desperate need of aid. The World Bank said last month it approved $34 million to help pay for vaccines for Lebanon that will inoculate over 2 million people.

"Everyone has to register and wait for their turn! #nowasta," the World Bank's regional director Saroj Kumar Jha tweeted, using a Lebanese term meaning that there should not be nepotism.

The World Bank "may suspend financing for vaccines and support for COVID19 response across Lebanon!!" he warned. "I appeal to all, I mean all, regardless of your position, to please register and wait for your turn."

He added that the vaccination "is not in line with the national plan agreed with @WorldBank and we would record it (as a) breach of terms and conditions agreed with us for fair and equitable vaccination."

Lebanon is notorious for corruption and nepotism, which has brought the Mediterranean nation to bankruptcy.

Abdul Rahman Bizri, who heads the committee supervising the vaccination campaign, held a news conference later Tuesday in which he announced that he backed down from a decision to submit his resignation and that he had called the committee's members for a meeting to "discuss the reasons and justifications" for the controversial vaccination of the 16 MPs.

"What happened today was a breach of the vaccination process over which we cannot remain silent," he added.

"What happened today is outrageous and should not be repeated," Bizri said. "There is no political priority," he stressed.

In January, Lebanon's government launched a digital coronavirus vaccination registration platform for residents of the nation.

Lebanese had been expecting the vaccine rollout to be riddled with corruption and violations but news that MPs had received their injections sparked anger on social media, in a country with a long reputation for government corruption.

"My mom is 84 she is registered and didn't (have) her turn yet, while all the politicians, (their) families and friends will be vaccinated before her," said one Twitter user.

Lebanon’s national plan prioritizes medical workers and residents over 75 years old in its current first phase. Some of the legislators inoculated Tuesday were younger than 75.

Comments 11
Thumb enterprise 24 February 2021, 23:25

A terrorist member of an Iranian terrorist organisation talks of 'Sovereignty'. Just like it was and still is a 'Sovereign' decision to allow planes from Iranian cities carrying the virus to land at Beirut Airport.

No need to Panic.... !

Missing fuzzyd72 25 February 2021, 00:44

The only upside to this story is that Hassan admitted that he was the one that gave the authority. Even though he doesn't admit fault (which he should have), at least now we know the source of the issue.

Default-user-icon Crookssss (Guest) 25 February 2021, 02:21

God blsss all these MPs. Lebanon cannot survive without them. Good move Mr. Minister! Or sinister should I say

Default-user-icon R (Guest) 25 February 2021, 05:41

Lies & Damage control for the ruling filth.

Thumb warrior 25 February 2021, 06:23

'Sovereign Decision' ???

What does this Iranian Hezbollah stooge know about Sovereignty?!

Thumb ashtah 25 February 2021, 07:01

I don't think it's up to you to take a Sovereign decision. What is known right now according to many medical centres including AUH the whole process of vaccination has been riddled by corruption and misuse. It is also clear that out of the 65,000 vaccines only 25,000 reached their targeted sector of people. The rest was used on officials, their relatives, rich and influential people and the like.

Thumb ashtah 25 February 2021, 12:36

تلفت المعلومات الى ان محاولات احتواء التداعيات الفضائحية اصطدمت بمزيد من الحقائق الصادمة التي كشفت تسريب وتهريب عمليات تلقيح ترقى الى مستوى الخمسين في المئة واكثر خارج المنصة الرسمية بما يشكل ادانة ثابتة لوزارة الصحة في المقام الأول عن هذه الفضيحة الكارثية وما يمكن ان تؤدي اليه من اثار بالغة الأذى على لبنان واللبنانيين كما يصعب استبعاد مسؤولية بعض المستشفيات والمراكز الصحية المعتمدة للتلقيح التي شهدت انتهاكات مكشوفة فاضحة للآلية .

Default-user-icon cocoman (Guest) 25 February 2021, 07:09

"in appreciation for their efforts"... this says it all. the worst is that this monkey is convinced of what he is saying...

Missing samiam 25 February 2021, 07:30

The world bank should leave him out of the decision making process on who gets vaccinated and get some UNIFIL troops or other international troops to prevent him or other criminals we have in office from getting access to the vaccines.

And kizb says it is not corrupt.....

Thumb thepatriot 25 February 2021, 10:44

The MP's deserve it??
And the people dying in the street because they have been suffocated by their political rulers don't deserve it? Or deserve it less????
Go to hell!

Thumb lebanon_first 25 February 2021, 17:22

Who the f.. do u think u are to judge who deserve and who doesn't? You are a tool, a useful idiot. Disappear, insect.