Ambassador Donald Blome joined Minister of Health Faouzi Mehdi and the Tunisia Country Manager of the American pharmaceutical firm Pfizer, Walid Lakhdar, at Tunis-Carthage Airport today to receive the first installment of a total 2 million Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine doses for Tunisia purchased under a direct bilateral agreement with the company.
Tunisia was the first African nation to enter into a bilateral agreement with Pfizer and is now the first to receive Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines purchased directly by a national government on the African continent. Despite vaccine supply challenges globally, today’s Pfizer doses arrived on schedule.
Pfizer is an American multinational pharmaceutical corporation with headquarters in New York, City. Pfizer was the very first international pharmaceutical companies to open an office in Tunisia in 1966. In 1999, Pfizer launched a local joint venture with the leading pharmaceutical state-owned-enterprise Société des Industries Pharmaceutiques de Tunisie (SIPHAT). Pfizer employs more than 90 people and was selected as one of the “Best Places to Work For in Tunisia” in 2021.
“Congratulations to the Tunisian people and the Tunisian Government for receiving the first direct bilateral shipment of the Pfizer vaccine in Africa,” said Ambassador Blome. “The 84,000 COVID-19 vaccines that arrived today are a great example of the strength of our U.S.-Tunisia partnership as we stand together in the face of this global pandemic.”
The U.S. Government’s COVID Support
Today’s delivery is the second Pfizer vaccine shipment to Tunisia. The first shipment of 93,000 Pfizer vaccine doses arrived on March 17 as part of the international COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) mechanism. COVAX was designed to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines and guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to them for people in all countries, including Tunisia.
Under the COVAX initiative, Tunisia is scheduled to receive 4.3 million doses in the coming months. The United States has pledged $4 billion to the global COVAX initiative, which makes the United States the largest single donor to COVAX.
Since March 2020, the U.S. government has provided more than $36 million USD in support to help Tunisia respond to the immediate health crisis and address the pandemic’s long-term economic and social effects.