Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal, Chair of the National Health Strategic Group on COVID-19 and Head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation, confirmed today that the Ministry of Public Health is in advanced negotiations with a number of international pharmaceutical companies to procure a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is released for global use.
“Qatar’s comprehensive strategy to protect its population from COVID-19 has been very effective and has resulted in controlling the pandemic and having one of the world’s lowest COVID-19 mortality rates. Yet despite our success in controlling the spread of the virus it is clear that Qatar, like other countries around the world, will be living with COVID-19 for some time to come,” said Dr. Al Khal.
“The preventive measures currently in place, such as the wearing of masks, keeping a safe distance and limitations on gatherings, are key to controlling the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus and protecting the population, but only when we have an effective vaccine will we be able to fully return towards normal life,” he added.
He further explained that the Ministry of Public Health is in advanced negotiations with several leading international pharmaceutical companies working on a COVID-19 vaccine with the aim of procuring a sufficient quantity of vaccines to ensure everyone who is eligible for the vaccine in Qatar is able to receive one as soon as possible.
“I am delighted to announce that the Ministry of Public Health has already signed an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech to supply Qatar with their BNT162 mRNA-based candidate vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. The vaccine is still in the process of undergoing clinical trials and only once all necessary regulatory approvals have been given will the vaccine be distributed. Supply is planned for the end of 2020 to 2021, subject to clinical success and necessary regulatory approvals. ” added Dr. Al Khal.
“Our agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech is one of the options to help address the threat of this global pandemic in Qatar but in the interim period while no approved vaccine is available I would like to remind people of the need to follow the preventive measures and stay safe until such a vaccine is available.”
“On a related note, as we approach the time of year when seasonal influenza reaches its peak, it is more important than ever this year that people receive the flu vaccine. Those population groups most vulnerable to severe symptoms from COVID-19, such as the elderly and people with chronic conditions, are also at greatest risk from the flu. In the coming days the Ministry of Public Health will be launching its flu vaccination campaign, providing free flu vaccines for all citizens and residents. Priority will be given to vulnerable people at high risk of developing flu complications such as older people and children below 5 years old as well as patients with chronic diseases at any age. I urge everyone, especially those at most risk, to take the flu vaccine this year,” said Dr. Al Khal.