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Lebanon secures COVID-19 vaccines for 20% of its citizens - health minister

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon has secured about 2 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, which will cover 20% of the country’s nationals, the health minister said on Monday.

Hamad Hassan told Reuters two weeks ago the country was about to sign a deal for supplies and that the first batch would arrive eight weeks later.

“We have reserved about 2 million doses of the vaccine and that will be enough for 20% of Lebanese living in the country,” he said at the presidential palace on Monday.

Lebanon’s hospitals are under pressure as infections surge. Doctors warn ICU beds are filling up fast.

The medical system has also been battered by the country’s financial crisis, which caused supply shortages, and August’s port explosion, which damaged major Beirut hospitals.

The COVID-19 outbreak has killed nearly 1,400 people in Lebanon, which has an estimated population of 6 million including more than 1 million Syrian refugees.

Lebanon had also detected its first case of a new more transmissible variant of the coronavirus on a flight arriving from London, Hassan said last week.

Reporting by Ellen Francis; Editing by Alison Williams

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