Iraq has been negotiating with US pharmaceutical company Pfizer to obtain a vaccine against the coronavirus, the Health Ministry announced on Thursday, adding that it is also in contact with AstraZeneca and other companies on the matter.
"Several meetings have been held with Pfizer starting 22 July, when the company was at the testing stage, and we signed an agreement with them not to announce information during the production phases. It was followed by other meetings … with the last one on 23 November", the ministry said in a statement.
The deal set a number of conditions for the talks, which were discussed with the relevant advisory committees and then approved by the country’s Higher Committee for Health and National Safety at its Wednesday session, the ministry added, noting that one of the most important was a vaccine to be accredited by one of the foreign organisations and the World Health Organisation.
"Once Britain announced the approval of the Pfizer vaccine [on Wednesday], we directly contacted the company and asked them to hold a meeting tomorrow to discuss a mechanism for logistical issues, and the date was set", the statement added.
According to the ministry, Baghdad is also in contact with AstraZeneca and Chinese companies on getting the coronavirus vaccine.
"We are waiting for any of the vaccines to be approved by international organisations to start negotiations with them", the ministry said.
The ministry also noted that it has concluded an agreement with the GAVI Vaccine Alliance on the supply of vaccines for 20 percent of the Iraqi population.
"Communication channels are still open with all countries and companies working on the vaccine production, as well as with scientific advisory committees specialized in this field", the ministry said.
After becoming the first country in the world to approve the vaccine candidate designed by Pfizer and German firm BioNTech, the United Kingdom authorities announced on Wednesday that the immunisation campaign will begin as early as next week. Other countries, including Russia, have also developed vaccines.
To date, Iraq's health authorities have confirmed 556,728 coronavirus cases, with 12,340 deaths and around 486,000 recoveries.