Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah spoke on live television urging Libyans to register for vaccinations online.
Libya has kicked off its delayed COVID-19 vaccination, with Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, prime minister of the country’s new unity government, to be televised live.
Officially, Libya registered a total of about 167,000 coronavirus infections, including more than 2,800 deaths, out of a population of seven million people. Its healthcare system has struggled to cope during the pandemic, tense by years of political turmoil and violence.
After being vaccinated against Dbeibah on Saturday at the Libyan Center for Disease Control headquarters on the outskirts of the capital Tripoli, Health Minister Ali al-Zenati was next to receive a mockery.
To date, Libya has received 200,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, along with more than 57,600 injections of AstraZeneca, which are made available through the COVAX program for middle- and low-income countries.
Dbeibah urged fellow citizens to register for the vaccination online. He saw the vaccination campaign as a policy priority, alleging that the delivery of the shots was being thwarted by outside authorities.
“The arrival of the vaccine has been delayed by political, not financial, considerations,” he said.
Dbeibah was selected earlier this year through a UN-sponsored Libyan dialogue to lead the country in the national elections in December.
His government replaced two warring governments based in Tripoli and the eastern part of the country, which later remained loyal to the traitorous military commander Khalifa Hafar. Opposing governments have backed the new administration, adding to the expected hope that Libya can escape a decade of crisis.
‘Better late than never’
The World Health Organization said on Thursday that two new variants of the coronavirus are present in Libya, having recently detected about 1,000 new infections daily.
There are currently no preventive measures in place, and although it is mandatory to wear them in public places, it is widely available.
“I feel sorry that the vaccine arrived late in Libya after thousands of people became infected. But better late than never, ”store owner Ali al-Hadi told Reuters news agency and added that his wife had contracted COVID-19 and had recovered.
Many Libyans fear the vaccination campaign could be ruined by political fights or bias after years of turmoil.
Housewife Khawla Muhammad, 33, said: “We hope the Ministry of Health will avoid political conflict so services can reach patients.