SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraq approved emergency use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on Sunday (December 27), according to state news agency (INA).
Spokesman of Iraqi health ministry Saif al-Badr told INA that the National Authority for Drug Selection had agreed to use the coronavirus vaccine produced by Pfizer in an “emergency manner” to curb the virus in the country.
Minister of Health Hasan al-Tamimi has said that Iraq will receive the vaccine soon along with special equipment needed to store it.
“The special storage equipment will also be part of the deal,” Tamimi told INA.
The ministry’s spokesman said December 21 that Iraq had agreed with Pfizer to import 1.5 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine and that the vaccine would arrive in the country early next year.
In October, the ministry of health said the government would prioritize healthcare workers, members of security forces and other high-risk groups to receive the vaccine.
BioNTech began developing the vaccine in January, using a technology called synthetic messenger RNA (mRNA) that had yet to produce an approved product.
The technology uses a chemical messenger to instruct cells to make proteins that mimic part of the new coronavirus, which the immune system learns to recognize as an invader. BioNTech struck a development deal with Pfizer in March.
The vaccine comes with complex distribution challenges as it must be shipped and stored at -70 Celsius (-94 F), requiring specialized ultra-cold freezers or supplies of dry ice.
Pfizer has developed a special shipping container that will be filled with dry ice to keep the vaccine from spoiling.