"Pfizer vaccine to arrive mid-February, rate of positive tests still high," says Hassan

Mon 23 Nov 2020 at 18:38 Corona

NNA - Caretaker Public Health Minister, Hamad Hassan, announced, on Monday, that after nine days of general closure in the country, the rate of positivity in the COVID-19 examinations is still high, reaching 15%.

However, he considered that the steady numbers with no rise signal a kind of good indication that may materialize in the coming days, especially that the real assessment of the closure takes place in the second week.

"What we aspire to achieve is to reduce the percentage to 10% while continuing to raise the readiness of government hospitals by increasing the number of intensive unit beds, in conjunction with the response of private hospitals in this area," Hassan explained.

He added, "The closure for two weeks does not meet the requirements, but we are adapting to what is available economically and socially. The alternative to extending the closure is the gradual opening of sectors and responsible commitment by society."

In an interview with Al-Jadid TV, Hassan pointed out that "the examinations conducted by the Public Health Ministry teams in the regions in recent days revealed epidemic outbreak spots in Baalbek-Hermel, Akkar and Ghobeiry, and this is an indication that those returning from abroad or those who traveled recently have transmitted the infection to their family members who are moving about within the community; hence, they must quarantine for at least ten days, even if the PCR test results are negative."

Moreover, the Caretaker Health Minister disclosed that his Ministry has begun conducting "Rapid Antigen" tests for those who complain of symptoms, which are accurate tests that produce a result after twenty minutes and help determine the type of infection, whether Corona or influenza. He also indicated that his Ministry is in the process of conducting random PCR tests next week to assess the epidemiological status in the community, in addition to continuing to conduct tests directed at contacts and immunological examinations.

Referring to the COVID-19 vaccine, Hassan expected that "Lebanon will receive the Pfizer vaccine, if approved in its final form, no later than mid-February," stressing that "what the Ministry of Public Health did with this company is an achievement that deserves appreciation, because Lebanon began early negotiations with the company, which allowed it to be one of the first countries to receive the vaccine at a competitive price."

Hassan noted that a committee has been organized to follow-up on the shipment and receipt of the vaccine, since it requires special cooling conditions. He also stressed that "there is no financial problem preventing Lebanon from obtaining the vaccine, in light of the possibility of increasing the amount transferred from the World Bank loan to cover the expenses of confronting the Corona epidemic," adding that "the recommendation of the scientific committee stipulates that those over 60 years of age and those who have chronic, immune, and intractable diseases will receive the vaccine."

"The Pfizer vaccine will cover 15 percent of the Lebanese, while another 20 percent will be covered by the Kovacs global vaccination platform," stated Hassan, adding that "the Health Ministry is seeking to contact Moderna, especially since its founders are of Lebanese origin; yet, contact was more rapid with Pfizer, as it is an American company and has been in the Lebanese market for many years."


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