Qatari authorities have issued an emergency use authorisation for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the second coronavirus jab approved in the country after the one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) said the move on Wednesday came after an extensive review of the vaccine.
“The comprehensive clinical trial process on Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine has showed it is safe and highly effective,” Dr Abdullatif Al Khal, chair of the National Health Strategic Group on COVID-19 and head of infectious diseases department at Hamad Medical Corporation, was cited by the QNA news agency as saying.
“The authorisation from MOPH means we can soon begin administering the Moderna vaccine along with the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine as we expand our national vaccination programme in Qatar,” he added.
To date, Qatar has registered 155,453 coronavirus infections and 253 related deaths. Last week, authorities announced a 32-point plan to curb a surge in cases that has raised fears of a new wave of infections.
The small Gulf country in January recorded an 85 percent increase in the number of COVID-19 patients being admitted to hospital compared to the previous month.
Al Khal said that with high demand for COVID-19 vaccines around the world, Qatar will now benefit from the availability of two vaccines.
He added that both vaccines have shown similarly high levels of safety and efficacy in trials and that people should not be concerned about which vaccine they are offered.
Meanwhile, Dr Aisha Ibrahim Al Ansari, director of Pharmacy and Drug Control and the chair of the Vaccine Procurement Taskforce in Qatar, said: “Qatar’s proactive approach to securing vaccine agreements has proved highly effective.”
“We were clear from the outset that we only wanted to administer internationally-approved, safe and effective vaccines for the people of Qatar,” she said.
“We will soon receive the first delivery of Moderna vaccines and while this will be a limited quantity initially, this is an encouraging development and we can expect regular, larger deliveries of both Moderna and Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines to arrive in Qatar in the next days and weeks.”