Saudi Arabia to deliver free COVID-19 vaccine for citizens and residents

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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COVID-19 Vaccine
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The Saudi Ministry of Health is targeting to make the coronavirus vaccine available free to at least 70 percent of the Kingdom’s citizens and residents.

Dr. Abdullah Asiri, assistant undersecretary for preventive health at the ministry, says that the authority will be giving priority to those who have not tested positive for the coronavirus in the inoculation campaign about to commence in the coming months. However, now the officials are not considering vaccinating those under 16 years unless research or tests prove its need.

The government is hoping to procure enough vaccines by the end of next year, to complete the proposed inoculation campaign. “The Kingdom worked on two paths to obtain the vaccine, through the COVAX organization, which the G20 had a role in creating and financing,” Dr. Asiri stated.

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The second planned path to obtain required vaccines that cannot be met with the COVAX organization is by directly contracting with the big companies, Dr. Asiri added.

COVAX is a global initiative targeted at working with vaccine manufacturers to offer countries around the world equitable access to safe and effective vaccines once they are licensed and approved.

Mr. Asiri further added that the Kingdom is working to announce a clear schedule of the vaccination’s arrival to the country in the coming weeks.

Procuring effective vaccines needs in-depth planning and supply chain and time for the shots to arrive in large quantities enough to cover the entire population of the country, so, “what will be released this year is not expected to be in the large quantities that would affect the pandemic’s trajectory, which isn’t expected before mid-2021,” Dr. Asiri added.

Assistant to the minister of health and official spokesman, Dr. Muhammad Al-Abd Al-Aly, stated that the authority will only deliver those vaccines which are effective against the virus, has no side effects and are approved by the authorities concerned with granting licenses.

Meanwhile, three vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have been found to be at least 70 percent effective, giving hope for the inoculation program to start soon.

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