WASHINGTON (Facebook) – Noubar Afeyan, co-founder and chairman of Moderna, was honored with Lebanon’s National Order of Merit, along with seven of his colleagues, all executives and scientists of Lebanese origin on February 2. Ambassador of Lebanon to the United States of America Gabriel Issa presented the awards on behalf of the President of the Republic of Lebanon General Michel Aoun. The ceremony was streamed live on Facebook, with some award recipients present in person and others participating virtually.
The ambassador declared that the Moderna executives raised the flag of Lebanon very high. They helped promote the name of Lebanon while solving a basic problem of survival for humanity. Lebanon of course will also benefit from the vaccine like any other country, he continued.
Issa remarked that when he met President Donald Trump during a ceremony to present his ambassadorial credentials, and thanked the US for all its help to Lebanon, the latter surprised him by asking what Lebanon did for the US. He did not have the opportunity to respond then. The February 2 ceremony, he said, provided the opportunity to give a partial delayed answer: Lebanese helped the US with its people and talent.
Afeyan could not participate in person but delivered his remarks of thanks virtually. He first praised the other members of Moderna who received the award and provided a brief background about the birth and development of Moderna. He paid tribute to his country of birth and expressed gratitude to Lebanon for accepting so many Armenian refugees and orphans who survived the Armenian Genocide.
Afeyan spoke fondly about his memories of his childhood in Lebanon. He noted that the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative was able to provide aid after the August 2020 explosion, which reminded him of the burning port he saw when fleeing with his family in 1975.
He said that he saw special kinship between Armenians and Lebanese today, with both countries facing difficult conditions but also having successful diasporas and the possibility of making positive changes through entrepreneurship.