Firass Abiad, the Director at the Rafik Hariri University Hospital, raised vigilance on Tuesday saying complacency with COVID raises the risk of developing a Lebanese variant.
“During last year, Lebanon was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Will this year bring another: the Lebanon Covid variant? High community transmission allow the virus the perfect environment to mutate and adapt, and Covid has proven itself very good at that,” said Abiad on Twitter.
“In addition to a high community transmission, Lebanon has a loose border control and a weak Covid virus genetic surveillance program. The conditions are ripe, as other variants travel into the country, spread undetected, and have the chance to mutate with every transmission,” he added.
“New variants can mean different things. The virus can become more contagious, less susceptible to vaccines, or even more virulent. This can have dire consequences as health authorities, and individuals being reinfected with Covid, are discovering in Brazil and South Africa,” stated Abiad.
He said that “ramifications will be far reaching if it happens,” adding “the global spread of variants have shown that no country is safe unless all countries are. It is therefore imperative that the Ministry of Health gets the support it needs to control the transmission and expand its surveillance program.”
Abiad explained that “the aim of this tweet is not to frighten, but to educate. The more we know about the virus, the more we can plan and take the appropriate actions. With Covid, complacency have proven to be very costly. So has wishful thinking. As they say, fortune favors the prepared.”