* Besides Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna also will supply Qatar with its vaccine
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has signed an agreement with a second pharmaceutical company to procure Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it is approved and released for global use, it was announced on Sunday.
Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, Chair of the National Health Strategic Group on Covid-19 and Head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), said the new agreement is with Moderna, a Massachusetts-based biotech company.
"Moderna has been working since the early days of the pandemic on the development and testing of a Covid-19 vaccine. Preliminary findings from Moderna's phase 1 and 2 clinical trials have shown that healthy adults produced coronavirus neutralising antibodies and an immune reaction from T-cells. While further testing is ongoing on thousands of volunteers, these initial findings are encouraging and demonstrate that clear progress is being made in the search for a safe and effective vaccine," said Dr al-Khal.
Moderna's vaccine testing process follows very high safety and quality standards typically applied for vaccine development and has involved more than 30,000 participants in the United States. According to the company, they are on track to supply around 500mn doses of the vaccine across the world from early 2021.
"The signing of the agreement with Moderna is a significant step forward in our country's efforts to procure a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine for the people of Qatar and comes following the announcement of our first agreement with a leading pharmaceutical company earlier this month," said Dr al-Khal.
"We continue to work with several leading pharmaceutical companies around the world who are in the process of developing potential vaccines for Covid-19. Our aim is to ensure that we have early access to the vaccines as soon as they demonstrate safety and efficacy and after they are approved by the appropriate international regulatory authorities," said Dr al-Khal.
"While there is a chance that not all of these potential vaccines will prove successful, negotiating early and securing a number of agreements enhances our chances of getting sufficient quantities of the vaccine early on at a time where there will be a huge global demand for approved Covid-19 vaccines," added Dr al-Khal.
There are no internationally approved vaccines yet, but several are in advanced trials, including from Pfizer Inc , Johnson & Johnson and Moderna.
Earlier this month, Dr al-Khal said Qatar signed an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech to supply Qatar with their vaccines.
“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," he had said.