Saudi crown prince sparks rush for vaccine as registrations jump fivefold

Saudi crown prince sparks rush for vaccine as registrations jump fivefold
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receives his first dose of a coronavirus vaccine on Dec. 25, 2020. (SPA)
Saudi crown prince sparks rush for vaccine as registrations jump fivefold
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Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal receives his first dose of a coronavirus vaccine on Saturday. (SPA)
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Updated 27 December 2020

Saudi crown prince sparks rush for vaccine as registrations jump fivefold

Saudi crown prince sparks rush for vaccine as registrations jump fivefold
  • Numbers seeking vaccination increased fivefold in a single hour: Al-Rabiah
  • Prince Khalid Al-Faisal received his first COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Jeddah on Saturday

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appears to have sparked a surge in the number of people registering for the coronavirus vaccine after receiving the inoculation on Friday.
About 500,000 people had registered for the vaccine by last Thursday following the Ministry of Health’s rollout of a national inoculation plan.
But after the crown prince was photographed one day later receiving the vaccine, the numbers seeking vaccination jumped fivefold in a single hour, according to Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah.
The vaccination rate is also believed to have surged with up to 10,000 already inoculated.

Meanwhile, the number of active coronavirus cases in the Kingdom continues to fall, with the Kingdom yet to record a single case of the COVID-19 variant.
However, Dr. Abdullah Asiri, assistant deputy minister for preventive medicine, urged caution, warning that the virus remains a real threat.
“What we know for sure is that these mutations won’t change the behavior of the virus or its ability to infect people, resulting in severe symptoms,” he said.
Asiri said that the mutation did not appear to cause more harm than other strains of the coronavirus.
“Without mutations, coronaviruses rarely infect people twice since the antibodies created by the human body are able to prevent a second infection for up to four or five months,” he said.

FASTFACT

362,066 Total cases

In Jeddah, health workers have begun receiving coronavirus vaccinations at the King Abdul Aziz International Airport South Terminal inoculation centers as the first phase of the program focuses on front-line staff.
Daily cases in the Kingdom are holding steady below the 200 mark, with 163 new cases reported on Saturday, raising the number to 362,066 since the beginning of the pandemic.
There are currently 2,886 active cases, 383 of which are in critical care.
A total of 189 new recoveries were also reported, raising the number to 353,004. The Kingdom’s recovery rate is at 97.49 percent.
Eight people died due to complications caused by COVID-19 infection, raising the total number of deaths to 6,176.


Saudi Arabia’s first COVID-19 vaccine set for clinical trials

Saudi Arabia’s first COVID-19 vaccine set for clinical trials
Updated 16 January 2021

Saudi Arabia’s first COVID-19 vaccine set for clinical trials

Saudi Arabia’s first COVID-19 vaccine set for clinical trials
  • It will go through rigorous testing and several trial stages before it is approved for use by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority

RIYADH: Preclinical studies on the first Saudi vaccine against COVID-19 have been completed.

Professor of epidemiology Dr. Iman Almansour, who heads the team of researchers working on the vaccine at the Institute for Research and Medical Consultations (IRMC), affiliated with Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University (IAU), confirmed to Arab News on Friday that the studies were complete, and said clinical trials would begin as soon as “the proper approvals” had been given.

She did not specify when that is expected to happen.

The Ministry of Education is financing the team’s project. The team’s research paper has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Pharmaceuticals.

The vaccine is given to the body to build protein inside cells, which stimulate the body to produce immunity specific to the S antigen.

Dr. Iman Almansour, professor of epidemiology

According to the published paper, the vaccine has so far proven effective, when used on animals, in eliciting antibodies that will target the virus. “The vaccine is given to the body to build protein inside cells, which stimulate the body to produce immunity specific to the S antigen,” Dr. Almansour explained.

Dr. Turki Almugaiteeb, director of Healthcare and Life Sciences at RPD Innovations, which runs the National Vaccine and Biomanufacturing Center, told Arab News: “There is a great focus on the results of medical research because of the pandemic. Research can play a great role in developing a vaccine that can be adopted and further developed in the future. We can say that the Kingdom has a strong infrastructure, which can help produce and manufacture a national vaccine.”

Both Almugaiteeb and Almansour stressed that the experimental vaccine will need to go through rigorous testing and several trial stages before it is approved for use by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority.

Prof. Nasser Al-Aqeeli, the deputy minister of education for research and innovation, said the ministry supported programs at the Kingdom’s universities with more than SR500 million ($133.3 million) in 2020.