Fazeena Saleem |The Peninsula
DOHA: An approved COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be available for people in Qatar by end of this year, according to a senior health official.
Director of the Health Protection and Communicable Diseases Control Department at the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Hamad Al Rumaihi, said that Qatar has the priority in obtaining COVID-19 vaccine based on agreements with international pharmaceutical companies.
“There are agreements between the Ministry of Public Health with Pfizer and Moderna for COVID-19 vaccine. We hope to get the first consignment of the vaccine by the end of this year, and the other batches by next year,” Dr. Al Rumaihi said while speaking to Al Rayyan TV, recently.
On November 16, the US pharmaceutical company Moderna announced a new vaccine that protects against COVID-19 with 94.5% efficacy, according to a trial involved 30,000 people in the US. Moderna is the second company to report preliminary results from a large trial testing a vaccine. But there are still months to go before it will be widely available to the public.
The results similar to a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech recently, have added to growing confidence that vaccines can help end the pandemic.
Both companies plan to apply within weeks to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency authorization to begin vaccinating the public.
Moderna expects to have 20 million doses available in the US. The pharmaceutical company hopes to have up to one billion doses available for use around the world next year and is planning to seek approval in other countries too.
Dr. Al Rumaihi said, “Moderna has announced that it will manufacture a small quantity this year, and therefore it will be allocated to the US. According to Moderna, the company will manufacture between 500 million to one billion doses next year. Based on the agreement the Ministry of Public Health has with Moderna, the supply of vaccine will be during the first half of 2021.”
In early November a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in participants. The study enrolled 43,538 participants, with 42% having diverse backgrounds.
The Ministry of Public Health had earlier said that the announcement by Pfizer and BioNtech is very promising and Qatar will receive its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this year or early next year, if the vaccine gets the necessary regulatory approval.