RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will be among the first countries in the world to obtain a vaccine for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) according to Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief).
Speaking on Friday during a session titled “G20 Saudi Leadership: Challenges and Achievements,” Al-Rabeeah said: “The Kingdom has been proactive and supported global efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine and will be one of the first countries to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”
He explained that Saudi Arabia has signed agreements with several countries to procure early supplies of vaccines that have reached the final stages of clinical trials.
During his address, the KSrelief chief cited a number of initiatives introduced by Saudi Arabia and the G20 — of which the Kingdom holds the presidency this year — with specific references to Saudi measures to combat COVID-19.
“Saudi Arabia has injected $500 million — $200 million of which is for international and regional organizations’ vaccine and drug development,” said Al-Rabeeah. “The G20 have done their best to maintain the health systems of the world by injecting $21 billion with the hope that people will not suffer from the pandemic.”
Moreover, the G20 has injected $14 billion in debt relief funds for the most vulnerable nations, ensuring they could focus their resources on fighting the pandemic, he noted, adding that there will be an “equitable distribution” of vaccines once available. “Not only G20 countries, but all countries will benefit … especially poor and fragile ones,” he said.
Al-Rabeeah claimed that, according to “international organizations,” Saudi Arabia has been one of the most successful countries in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and noted that the government had established a “high-level and well-experienced committee” dedicated to that cause.
He cited the Tetamman app, which launched in April to “reinforce the commitment of all persons directed to isolation and follow up on their cases,” and the Tawakkalna app developed by the National Information Center (NIC), which granted permits for various activities during the nationwide lockdown, as examples, as well as explaining that 9 million COVID-19 tests had been conducted in the Kingdom, while its ICU capacity had doubled and the number of “regular beds” in Saudi hospitals had increased by 50 percent since the start of the pandemic.