Just hours after the regulators approved the coronavirus vaccine for use in Qatar, the State received its first novel coronavirus vaccine. Qatar had announced that all residents would be inoculated free of charge.
A shipment of 14 boxes of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was handed over at Doha’s Hamad International Airport via a Qatar Airways passenger Boeing 787 from Brussels, just after 2000 GMT. The number of doses received in this first shipment is yet to be confirmed.
The Chair of the National Health Strategic Group on Covid-19, Abdullatif al-Khal mentioned during a speech that Qatar would begin vaccinations from 23rd December, with priority being given to the elderly and those with chronic conditions and the medical staff.
Vaccinations will be administered free of charge on a voluntary basis, he pointed out.
Several countries including the Britain, the European Union, Switzerland, Canada, the United States, Israel, Singapore and Bahrain have all given the go-ahead for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, making way for the inoculations to begin.
The Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine has been 95 percent effective in global trials, wherein two doses of the vaccine are administered at three weeks apart. It should be stored at the ultra-low temperature of -70 degree Celsius (-94 Fahrenheit), which poses handling and storage challenges too.
The Health Ministry in Qatar has approved the Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine, one of the two vaccines that the ministry has signed purchase deals.
The Department of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Control approved the vaccine only after its thorough review was done, based on the clinical results conducted on a range of volunteers, the ministry said.
The review showed that the vaccine is safe and effective as per international standards.
Qatar will also administer several doses of the vaccine manufactured by Moderna Therapeutics, an US firm.
Qatar has so far tested 44 percent of its population of 2.75 million, and 142,159 cases of infections have been reported ever-since the pandemic began in Qatar.
Beginning this month, and continuing until 2021, Qatar will undertake the biggest vaccine program ever in Qatar, Khal said.