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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Qatar to provide one million Covid-19 vaccines for World Cup fans


Qatari officials announced the latest updates regarding preparations for the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar, in an interview with local media on Saturday.

Qatar is planning to host a Covid-free World Cup and will be providing one million shots of the “best” vaccines in the world to international spectators flocking to the country, the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani said in his first meeting with the editors-in-chief of Qatar-based newspapers.

The PM confirmed on Saturday that preparations for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 are progressing at an accelerated pace despite challenges that have emerged as a result of the pandemic.

By next year, most people around the world would have received the anti-Covid-19 shots, he said.

However, if some nations are unable to vaccinate their populations by then, Qatar will be prepared with at least one million doses of the Covid-19 shots to vaccinate non-vaccinated fans attending the World Cup 2022.

Qatar will not allow fans to enter stadiums without receiving the full doses of the vaccine, he stressed.

“Therefore, we are currently negotiating with a company to provide one million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to vaccinate non-vaccinated people coming to World Cup Qatar 2022,” he said. 

“Our primary goal in vaccinating some of the people coming to Qatar to attend the 2022 World Cup is to protect the public health of citizens and residents, as well as to protect fans participating in the tournament,” he stated. 

The Gulf state is also working on developing infrastructure ahead of the World Cup with the aim of hosting a unique sports event. 

“The pandemic had some minor impact in the beginning, but because we started preparing early, we succeeded quickly in ensuring the delivery of the required materials in coordination with the companies working on the World Cup projects.”

He stressed that Qatar is ready to host the mega tournament, with construction and of stadiums and infrastructure for the event in full swing.

“Most of the stadiums, part of the mega sport event, have been completed and they are ready to host matches,” he said, noting some have already hosted important football events.

Three of eight World Cup stadiums are still under construction: Lusail, Al Thumama and Ras Abu Aboud.

“Lusail Stadium, which will hold the final match of the FIFA World Cup on December 18, 2022, has been 90% completed,” he confirmed.

In addition, the Prime Minister said the 2021 Arab Cup to be held a year before the start of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, will show the capabilities of the state in hosting major tournaments, and will also assess the efficiency and readiness of the infrastructure and facilities in the country ahead of the mega event.

“In general, things are going smoothly as planned.”

He also confirmed that different facilities designated for the 2022 World Cup are ready to the highest standards. These include accommodation, healthcare, and advanced transportation facilities. 

Read also: Over 1,100 electric buses set to transport fans at ‘green’ Qatar 2022

The PM stressed Qatar’s keenness to protect its people from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic through developing legislation and issuing urgent decisions to contain the virus.

To date, the Gulf state has vaccinated over 2.8 million people and managed to curb the spread of the virus, including a second wave. The number of daily active cases has been lowered to less than 100 infections among community members.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Public Health reported 93 cases among community members and 91 among travellers, bringing the total number of active cases down to 2013.

Regarding the National COVID-19 Vaccination Program, the PM said that around 72% of the entire eligible population will have had at least one dose of the vaccine by this week.

“There are many countries that have resorted to choosing the available vaccine of any kind, but the State of Qatar moved early and signed contracts with big international companies which have good names in manufacturing pharmaceutical products and conducting the necessary laboratory tests on them and approved by the World Health Organisation.”

He said that Qatar chose the best vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — that have been proven effective in clinical trials and authorised by the FDA, adding that the early investment in these companies allowed the state to secure vaccine doses for its people.

“The government’s efforts succeeded in containing the pandemic. We could not defeat it completely yet, but we overcame the effects of the last wave of mutated strains (British and South African) last March,” he said.

“We have adopted the implementation of deliberate measures for each of the activities and areas to limit the spread of the virus”, he said, referencing the partial closure of the Industrial Area after detecting the first case earlier last year. 

“It was the first pocket of the pandemic which was contained successfully, preventing it from becoming a source of infection. We benefited from that experience in responding quickly and containing the sources of increasing infection rates,” he noted.

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