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Saudi Arabia Expects to Get More Vaccine From Russia and China

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Saudi Arabia is still in talks with Russia and China to source coronavirus vaccines after the kingdom rolled out a program to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.

Saudi Arabia Expects to Get More Vaccine From Russia and China

Gulf kingdom started vaccination rollout last week to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech shot

“The process is ongoing and data is being shared, but we have not yet reached a decision,” Assistant Deputy Minister of Health Abdullah Assiri said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

“We don’t expect other vaccines to reach Saudi Arabia maybe until the first quarter of 2021.”

Saudi Arabia, which approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine earlier this month, on Monday halted international flights and closed its borders for one week over fears about the fast-spreading new strain of the coronavirus.

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Assiri also said that Saudi Arabia received three shipments of Pfizer vaccines and expects to get additional ones before the end of the year.

He confirmed that Saudi Arabia aims to vaccinate all of its residents for free.

Saudi Arabia kicked off a three-phase Covid-19 vaccination programme on Thursday, with the health minister among those inoculated.

Along with Health Minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah, a woman in a wheelchair and another man were among the first to be administered the vaccine at a centre in Riyadh.

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“This is the beginning of the end of the crisis,” Rabiah told reporters.

People aged over 65 as well as those with chronic ailments or at a high risk of infection will receive the vaccine in the first stage, and those aged over 50 in the second, the health ministry said this week.

Everyone else will be vaccinated in the third stage, the ministry said, without specifying the dates for each phase or how long the mass campaign would take.

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Saudi Arabia has so far recorded more than 360,000 novel coronavirus cases, including more than 6,000 deaths – the highest among the Gulf Arab states. But the kingdom has also reported a high recovery rate.

The start of the first vaccination programmes comes with several European countries announcing new lockdowns amid spiralling infections, highlighting the long road to ending the pandemic which has killed more than 1.6 million people worldwide.

Source: Arabian Business

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