Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk Pharmaceutical inks deal with Moderna to sell Covid-19 shots

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The World Health Organisation approved Moderna’s vaccine for emergency use at the end of April, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved the drug in December 2020. Image: Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk Pharmaceutical inked a three-year deal with Moderna Switzerland to sell and distribute its Covid-19 vaccine in the kingdom on Sunday.

Riyadh-based Tabuk, a unit of Tadawul-listed Astra Industrial Group (AIG), said the value of contract is difficult to determine as it is dependent on the “level of supply and sales to the market which is dependent on successful registration of the products”, according to a statement on the Saudi stock exchange Tadawul.

The contract which is renewable also gives Tabuk the opportunity to discuss expanding business opportunities with Moderna inside or outside the kingdom for products other than its Covid-19 vaccine and its variants if authorised in the future.

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The World Health Organisation approved Moderna’s vaccine for emergency use at the end of April, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug in December 2020. On Thursday, the US drug maker requested that the FDA approve the coronavirus shot for adolescents age 12 to 17. Pfizer and BioNTech have had their shots cleared for use in 12 to 15 year olds, and last week the UAE announced it would begin testing the China-made Sinopharm vaccine in adolescents.

Some Moderna recipients have reported heart problems, but the company said that scientific evidence it has reviewed doesn’t suggest that its Covid-19 vaccine was the cause of a heart condition.

The drug maker said in a statement Friday that after reviewing the available safety data on its shot for cases of myocarditis and pericarditis, it “has not established a causal association with its vaccine.”

Moderna said it “will continue to closely monitor these reports and is actively working with public health and regulatory authorities to further assess this issue.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified a total of 216 cases of heart inflammation after the first dose of an mRNA shot, and another 573 cases after the second dose. The median age of people with myocarditis or pericarditis following the first dose was 30, and 24 in the second-dose cases. There were 475 cases among people under 30.

Most patients have responded well to treatment and rest, according to the CDC, and more than 8 in 10 have had full relief from their symptoms. The agency is further examining the cases by age.

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