The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has decided to provide the Covid-19 vaccine free of charge to all Qatar residents , a top official said Monday.
Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, chair of the National Health Strategic Group on Covid-19 and head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation, was talking to Qatar TV.
Dr al-Khal had announced on Monday that the MoPH has signed an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech to supply Qatar with their BNT162 mRNA-based candidate vaccine against Sars-CoV-2.
"According to the website of Pfizer, the vaccine would possibly be approved by the end of October or the start of November this year after the successful clinical trials. So, I expect that the initial amounts of their vaccine supplies to Qatar could be available in the country during December 2020- January 2021 if things went well as planned," he said Monday.
"The first quantities of the vaccine could be limited in quantity, so priority would be given to the most vulnerable categories of people such as the elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases," Dr al-Khal stated.
"Over time, more and more quantities of the vaccine would be available to provide for all as Qatar is set to buy it from different entities to be able to make available locally sufficient quantities as soon as possible.
"If things go well by the end of 2020 around 100mn portions of the vaccine would be produced globally to be increased to more than 1bn in 2021.
"I recommend that everybody should take the Covid-19 vaccine, including those who recovered from the disease because it is not yet clear if the acquired immunity would last. It is not yet clear whether the upcoming vaccines would be permanent or need to repeated every year to maintain the desired immunity," he said.
The MoPH has been reviewing the latest authenticated international scientific journals and periodicals regarding the experiments conducted by the international drug companies and universities separately or jointly regarding the potential vaccines against Covid-19.
Dr al-Khal pointed out that based on the outcome of such researches and experiments, MoPH has contacted those with the most promising and reliable outcomes and achieved encouraging advanced clinical trials of their potential Covid-19 vaccines.
"During the past three months some of these companies and institutes have reached phase two and three of their trials, which are considered advanced levels in this regard. While the MoPH has already signed an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech to supply Qatar with their vaccine as soon it is ready and safe for use, we shall continue to discuss with other major companies in the field to secure the best options and enough quantities when possible and available," the top official and healthcare expert said.
Dr al-Khal pointed out that though most of the clinical experiments have been conducted on people aged 18 and above to expedite the process, the same would be done on younger patients by these global entities in the future when the vaccines are successful.
Dr al-Khal strongly urged the people to abide by the Covid-19 precautionary and preventive measures recommended by the MoPH, including social distancing, which have proven to be highly effective in containing the spread of infection as while vaccines are not available.
In addition, he advised people to avoid listening to false information regarding vaccines and other related issues circulating on the social media without any verification.
"The MoPH will constantly update the people on such issues with all the valid and authentic information as soon as they are available," Dr al-Khal added.