JEDDAH: The Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) on Thursday approved the importation and use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The SFDA gave clearance for the administration of the jab based on data provided by the manufacturers, but will test the vaccine once they receive the shipments, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The authority uses a scientific process to approve vaccines based on safety and efficacy results of clinical studies and other data provided by manufacturers, the report added.
Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abdulaali said: “We have exceeded half-a-million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, and the plan to expand continues to accelerate.” He added that the National Committee for Infectious Diseases has approved one dose for those who have previously been infected with the virus six months on from their recovery.
— Saudi Food & Drug Authority (@Saudi_fda_en) February 18, 2021
The dose, he said, is considered a booster for the natural immunity that they have formed, and the health status in Tawakkalna app will be “immune-recovered.”
He also stressed that vaccines are a strong weapon to combat the pandemic, and that all vaccines given in the Kingdom are safe and effective.
Saudi Arabia’s armed forces announced on Wednesday that they will inoculate their employees against COVID-19.
Maj. Gen. Mohammed Al-Balawi, deputy commander of the Saudi Air Defense Forces, held a meeting to review the plans and initiatives.
Leaders from the Kingdom’s regions, air bases, fleets and other groups were in attendance, along with a team from the Ministry of Defense’s temporary crisis support cell for the coronavirus pandemic.
They urged employees to register their data through their units in the ministry’s inoculation system and to continue to adhere to precautionary measures.
The Kingdom launched its coronavirus vaccination campaign on Dec. 17, 2020 after receiving its first consignment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine a day before in an effort to control the outbreak.
Saudi Arabia is the second country in the Gulf Cooperation Council, after Bahrain, to use the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine after it was approved by SFDA.
Saudi Arabia announced five COVID-19-related deaths on Thursday. Its death toll now stands at 6,450.
The Ministry of Health reported 327 new cases, meaning that 374,029 people have now contracted the disease. There are 2,562 active cases, 493 of which are critical.
In addition, 371 more patients have recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 365,017.
Saudis and expats in the Kingdom continue to receive their doses of coronavirus vaccines, with 501,710 doses give in the past 24 hours. Those wishing to receive a vaccine should register through the Ministry of Health’s Sehhaty app.