Coronavirus: Jordan seals three vaccine deals with doses to arrive by mid-2021

Health minister says people will not be forced to take vaccine once it becomes available

Faithfuls wearing protective masks and maintaining social distance attend a mass before turning on the lights on the Christmas tree, at Church of the Sacred Heart, amid fears over rising numbers of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in downtown Amman, Jordan December 6, 2020. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

Jordan has made initial agreements with three major pharmaceutical companies to buy coronavirus vaccines, the health minister said.

The country is grappling with a spike in infections and economic problems worsened by the pandemic.

Nizar Obeidat said, once they are available, the government will buy vaccines from American companies Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson as well as from Britain’s AstraZeneca.

But vaccination against the pandemic will not be compulsory in the country of 10 million people, he said.

“Contracting more than one [company] is important to guarantee that these vaccines will be available as soon as possible,” Mr Obeidat said late on Monday.

He expected the first vaccinations to arrive in Jordan in the first quarter of next year, with priority to inoculate medical staff and the elderly.

“Giving anyone a vaccine or treatment is not possible without their approval,” he said.

The minister did not give details on how much the government expects to pay for the vaccines, or whether it has already set aside the funds.

Officials say state revenue took a hit from declining economic activity this year.

Health Ministry data released on Tuesday showed 46 new deaths from the coronavirus in Jordan and 3,062 cases.

Most of the country’s 3,162 deaths from the pandemic and 247,000 infections were recorded from October, prompting a renewed curfew that started on November 11.

The economy is officially forecast to contract by 3 per cent this year. The Finance Ministry says the coronavirus and other “external factors” will drive the decline.

In 2019 the economy officially recorded a 2 per cent growth.

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