BEIRUT (5 February 2021) – Lebanon is in a state of emergency, and in a race against time, given the rate of infections and deaths and the potential of new mutations. Vaccines along social distance measures will ensure a fast return to normality. Ensuring a proper administration of vaccines with equity in mind and plans to limit wastage is a priority.
In their commentary published in EClinicalMedicine, Dr. Shadi Saleh and Hady Naal from the Global Health Institute and Dr. Ali Mokdad from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation advocate for a transparent, equitable, centralized and collaborative allocation of the vaccines that are set to be received by mid-February. The nationwide strategy recommended by the authors is necessary in order to “ensure efficient storage, management and distribution” of the vaccines, but is also essential as a collaborative approach that would initiate momentum across wide sectors, helping rebuild a more optimistic future. “Without a clearly communicated strategy describing how COVID-19 will be managed, and with the country’s failure to control infections, administering vaccines is the only way out of the pandemic.” said Prof. Saleh, Founding Director of the Global Health Institute at the American University of Beirut,
As such, in the commentary, the authors urge the guarantee of the following:
“Vaccination will save lives and not vaccines; a vaccine in a refrigerator is 0% efficient irrespective of what the clinical trial said. It is important to deliver the vaccine fast and equitably. The plan should ensure that wastage of vaccines is negligible” said Prof. Mokdad. The authors have stressed over the equal right of refugees and all other Lebanese residents – not just citizens – to get the vaccines. They have also called for the collaboration and support from all leadership and media to ensure sound information is circulating, so that the vaccine could reach out to a greater proportion of the population. “getting it right is key; Lebanon can and has overcome challenges – this should not be an exception” said Prof. Mokdad.