BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia’s food and drug regulator on Tuesday authorized emergency use of Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE’s COVID-19 vaccine, President Ivan Duque said on Tuesday, joining other countries that have already approved coronavirus vaccines.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has shown a 95% success rate, was formally approved by the National Institute of Food and Drug Surveillance (Invima).
“This is a very important step,” Duque said in his nightly broadcast, adding the approval for the vaccine had been given in record time.
The country now awaits approval for vaccines produced by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical unit Janssen, Duque added.
Patients aged 60 and over, or with co-morbidities such as asthma and diabetes, will be among the first in line for vaccines, as well as health workers.
Colombia has agreed to buy 10 million doses each of the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines, as well as 9 million from Janssen. The country has also secured 20 million vaccine doses via the World Health Organization-backed COVAX mechanism.
Colombia will receive its first delivery of 1.7 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses in February, with vaccinations beginning immediately, according to the minister of health.
Colombia, which has reported 1.7 million coronavirus infections and 44,426 deaths from COVID-19, the disease it causes, aims to vaccinate 35.7 million of its 50 million inhabitants.
(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)