The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has decided to make COVID-19 vaccine available free for all residents of the State of Qatar, a top official announced.

Chair of the National Strategic Group on COVID-19 and Head of the Infectious Diseases Division at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Dr Abdullatif Al Khal made the announcement in a Qatar TV programme.

He said that MoPH signed an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech to supply Qatar with their BNT162 mRNA-based candidate vaccine against Sars-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. He mentioned that the vaccine would possibly be approved by end of October or start of November this year after successful clinical trials. Qatar is expected to receive initial supplies of the vaccine by December or January next year. Vulnerable sectors such as the elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases will be given priority, Dr Al Akal stressed.

The Ministry will ensure to provide a vaccine of enough quantity. It is not possible to provide for all in the beginning due to high demand from all over the world so the vaccine will be provided within weeks and months.

He said that the vaccine will be provided free of cost, adding that Qatar is set to buy vaccines from different entities to be able to make available locally sufficient quantities as soon as possible.

According to a report on Pfizer Pharmaceutical company, by the end of 2020 the company will produce 100 million vaccine dozes, a large quantity of which will go to a number of countries including the US, European countries and others.

He said that the company will produce another one billion dozes of vaccine in 2021 which will be distributed among other countries of the world.

Qatar represented by the Ministry of Public Health will buy COVID-19 vaccines from more than one company to provide the vaccine faster and in largest possible quantity.

He said that MoPH took the latest information published by a credible medical science magazine.

A number of companies from across the world conducted experiments on COVID-19 vaccine in collaboration with universities and companies.

He said that the MoPH communicated with all companies which conducted promising experiments of COVID-19 vaccines and expected to be effective.

During the past three months, the Ministry communicated with a number of such companies, notably those companies whose products, in initial experiments, proved effective and safe in first and second phase of trials.

He said that the Ministry is still in touch with a number of such companies.

An agreement was signed with one of these companies which was announced and other agreements will be signed soon with other companies.

Dr Al Khal recommends that everyone take the COVID-19 vaccine, including those who recovered from the disease because he said that it is not yet clear if the acquired immunity would last. It is not yet clear whether these vaccines would be permanent or need to repeated every year to maintain the desired immunity.

Source: The Peninsula Qatar, Gulf Times