Saudi study documents safety of AstraZeneca

The logo for AstraZeneca is seen outside its North America headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S. (REUTERS file photo)
The logo for AstraZeneca is seen outside its North America headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S. (REUTERS file photo)
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Updated 31 July 2021

Saudi study documents safety of AstraZeneca

The logo for AstraZeneca is seen outside its North America headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S. (REUTERS file photo)
  • No major side effects were observed, no breakthrough infection was reported

JEDDAH: A Saudi study has documented the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine used to protect people against the coronavirus.

The results of the study, titled the “Safety and Reactogenicity of the ChAdOx1 (AZD1222) COVID-19 Vaccine in Saudi Arabia,” were shared on Friday by the deputy minister of preventive health, Abdullah Assiri.
The cross-sectional study, conducted on 1,592 randomly selected vaccinees, measured the “estimated the safety and reactogenicity of the ChAdOx1-S vaccine as administered to adults after the first dose.”
No major side effects were observed and no breakthrough infection was reported during the observation period.
The results showed that 34.7 percent of the studied group reported a reaction after the first dose while none of the group had any reaction after the second.
Some of the side effects reported among the group were injection site pain in 30.5 percent, musculoskeletal symptoms in 27.5 percent, while 62.4 percent of males experienced more fever than females (37.6 percent).
The study also concluded that the rate of post-vaccine COVID-19 infection was 0.5 percent with zero hospitalization.

INNUMBERS

524,584 Total cases

505,003 Recoveries

8,226 Deaths

11,355 Active cases

“The data showed that the vaccine is well tolerated with differences in the reactogenicity between males and females. In the follow-up period, there was no reported COVID-19 infection, hospital admissions or death,” the study found. “However, the prevalence of the different variants in Saudi (Arabia) is not reported. In an international phase clinical trial, a single dose of the Ad26.COV2.S vaccine showed 67 percent efficacy in preventing moderate to severe–critical COVID-19 as evaluated 14-28 days after the dose administration. The efficacy against severe–critical COVID-19 was 77-85 percent as evaluated 14-28 days post after administration.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Friday reported 14 more COVID-19-related deaths, taking the overall toll to 8,226.
There were 1,187 new cases, meaning that 524,584 people in the country had contracted the disease. A total of 11,355 cases remained active, of which 1,395 patients were in critical condition.
In addition, the ministry said that 1,176 patients had recovered from the disease, increasing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 505,003.
Meanwhile, 26,395,789 people in the country to date have received a jab against COVID-19, including 1,458,482 elderly people.


Teamwork is the key to solving world’s problems, says Saudi envoy

Abdullah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, spoke to Arab News during the UNGA. (Screenshot)
Abdullah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, spoke to Arab News during the UNGA. (Screenshot)
Updated 23 min 9 sec ago

Teamwork is the key to solving world’s problems, says Saudi envoy

Abdullah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, spoke to Arab News during the UNGA. (Screenshot)
  • In an exclusive interview, the Kingdom’s UN ambassador says the key to winning the war on terror lies in addressing the social issues that breed terrorism
  • Abdullah Al-Mouallimi also discusses Saudi Arabia’s approach to climate change, the pandemic, the crisis in Yemen and the Palestinian cause

NEW YORK: World leaders returned to the UN this week for their first in-person meeting in two years, as part of the 76th session of the General Assembly.

“The UN is open for business and we’re back to life,” Abdullah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, told Arab News.

He added that the return of the premiers to UN headquarters in New York City comes amid a heightened awareness of the vital need for international solidarity and “for working together, for caring for each other, because we all know no one is safe until everybody is safe.”

However the leaders face a daunting agenda filled with spiraling crises that will put their commitment to solidarity to the test. Extreme weather events are becoming more common as the planet warms as a result of climate change. Terrorist activity and conflicts are on the rise. And as the pandemic continues to rage, the “vaccine apartheid” that has emerged as wealthy nations stockpile doses is exposing the growing inequality between the world’s rich and poor.

The Arab world is dealing with its own set of crises. More than a year after the devastating explosion at Beirut’s port ripped the capital apart, Lebanon’s economy has collapsed and the country continues to slide ever deeper into darkness — literally, as a result of fuel shortages and power outages.

The situation in Yemen tops the list of the most severe humanitarian crises. The future of Libya remains uncertain as the country prepares for elections that might or might not happen.

 

Meanwhile the Arabian Gulf region is one of the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and Saudi Arabia’s efforts to do something about it have earned the Kingdom the title of a “world champion” in addressing the issue.

In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with Arab News, Al-Mouallimi talked about the Kingdom’s vision for the future, along with its achievements in tackling domestic, regional and global challenges.

According to the latest UN figures, only 4 percent of people in developing countries have been vaccinated, compared with more than 60 percent of people in wealthy nations.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken a leading role to make sure that vaccines are available to countries that do not have them, that the World Health Organization is up to (the task) of meeting the requirements and the demands of the challenge, (and) that all countries are ready and prepared to deal with the situation,” said Al-Mouallimi.

This year’s General Assembly began just days after the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the US. The commemorations were accompanied by a torrent of reflective debates about the so-called “war on terror,” its successes and failures, and the lessons it has taught the world. It is also one of the main topics on the assembly’s agenda.

The role played by Saudi Arabia in countering terrorism is “very prominent and well-noted,” said Al-Mouallimi, who added that many of the victories against terrorists would not have been possible without the Kingdom’s assistance.

But, terrorism has undoubtedly spread and become more complex and sophisticated in the past two decades, which begs the questions: Where did the world go wrong and what will it take to truly win this war?

Al-Mouallimi said the authorities in his country were able to achieve successes in the battle to defeat terrorism because they realized very early on that it is an international challenge as much as it is a local one.

It is also an “intergenerational war,” he added, and the Kingdom is under no illusions that the fight will end any time soon.

“It is going to take a long time and we have practiced patience and perseverance and (have) a long-term vision (for) counterterrorism.”

 

Saudis also realize, Al-Mouallimi said: “It takes a village, it takes a country, it takes a tribe, it takes a family, to overcome this scourge and this challenge.

“We in Saudi Arabia have not tried to (adopt) a one-solution-fits-all (approach). We did not limit ourselves to a simple military encounter, even though a military solution (sometimes) becomes necessary to deal with acts of terrorism.

“But at the same time we recognize that that (acting) alone is not enough. It takes more of a social approach to the issue, to finding out what are the root causes of terrorism, to finding out the circumstances that lead to the nurturing of terrorist activities in a certain country.”

Al-Mouallimi lamented the fact that authorities around the world often fail to grasp this concept and adopt the opposite approach.

“Many countries in the world have emphasized the military aspect only (and its) short-term victories” he said. “But the terrorists have a tendency to lie low when the pressure is high and to come back up again as soon as you relieve that pressure — and it’s proving almost impossible to maintain military pressure over time.”

He believes that the world must come together and address the root causes of terrorism, on the national and international levels, “such as marginalization, foreign occupation, oppression and exclusion.” These are the kind of things that “lead to people feeling desperate, and that feeling creates the momentum for terrorism,” he added. “We need to take away such root causes and such feelings in order to be more successful.”

Another issue where international solidarity is required, and which is perhaps the most important single issue for millions of Muslims and other people around the world, is the Palestinian question. The recent war on Gaza, and the emergency meeting of the General Assembly that followed, focused attention on the cause and the urgent need for action to address it.

Al-Mouallimi has urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to make Palestine his priority in the coming year. He also called for the world to “exercise leadership and solidarity” in support of the rights of the Palestinian people, and believes his message was received loud and clear.

He said that three years of political “turbulence” in Israel rendered authorities there “almost inept to deal with the issue of peace and stability in the region.” Israeli provocations in Jerusalem and its aggression in Gaza have made it clear Palestine has become “a political football” for various Israeli parties and individuals but, he added, the situation is “slightly different” now.

“We have a new government, albeit a one vote-majority government, which renders it unstable,” he said. “But nevertheless we have a new government and, hopefully, we have a new vision among the major countries of the world, including the US, that this situation cannot be allowed to continue, and that there has to be a solution along the parameters of the Arab peace initiative.”

 

In Yemen, a political stalemate and continuing violence continue to plunge the country deeper into what is now recognized as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Al-Mouallimi echoed the call by Hans Grundberg, who last month was appointed the UN’s special envoy for Yemen, for a return to efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement to the conflict. This has not been discussed since 2016.

“The previous international envoys have gone back and forth between a comprehensive solution and what they call ‘confidence-building measures,’” said Al-Mouallimi. “Unfortunately there was no confidence to build and hence these measures did not do much. Ultimately (the UN envoys) wasted a lot of time trying to go for piecemeal solutions: The Hodeidah Agreement for example, the localized ceasefires in certain places, and so on.

“This is proving to be ineffective, and it takes time and diverts attention from the major issue, which is the fact that there is illegitimate control over the government, the capital and other major cities in Yemen by an illegitimate force.

“So we need to go back to the direction of trying to find a comprehensive solution, (which) can only be a political solution that addresses all of the issues at the same time. I hope the new envoy is going to be able to do so.”

Returning to the issue of climate change, Al-Mouallimi said that Saudi Arabia is emerging as a world leader in tackling the issue.

At a moment in time the UN has described as a “code red” for humanity, the Kingdom this year announced plans to launch a Saudi Green Initiative, and a Middle East Green Initiative.

In a recent interview with Arab News, General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid praised the plans and said “the Saudi leadership is becoming an international champion in the field of addressing climate change.”

Al-Mouallimi said that action Saudi authorities are taking to address climate issues is driven by “a sense of responsibility.”

“We are a leading country in the world,” he said. “We recognize the imminent danger (to) life that is posed by climate change. And although we are an oil-producing country, we nevertheless recognize our overall responsibility toward the world and we believe that we have a mission (to) protect the environment.

“We want to do that at the forefront of nations, and we are.”


Saudi Falcons Club launches second auction on Oct. 1

The 45-day event will see the sale of rare and distinctive falcons that have been hunted during their annual migration. (Shutterstock)
The 45-day event will see the sale of rare and distinctive falcons that have been hunted during their annual migration. (Shutterstock)
Updated 21 sec ago

Saudi Falcons Club launches second auction on Oct. 1

The 45-day event will see the sale of rare and distinctive falcons that have been hunted during their annual migration. (Shutterstock)
  • The 45-day event will see the sale of rare and distinctive falcons that have been hunted during their annual migration

JEDDAH: The second International Falcon Hunters Auction will run from Oct.1-Nov.15, with the event being organized by the Saudi Falcons Club.
The club’s official spokesman, Walid Al-Taweel, said the auction reflected the organization’s keenness to strengthen falconry heritage and to serve falcon hunters and breeders in the Kingdom and the region.
“It also reaffirms the Kingdom’s leading role in supporting cultural and economic activities associated with falconry, where the auction aims to support investment in the field of falconry, the development of falcon auctions and the organization of the mechanism for buying and selling,” he said.
“The club’s teams in the central, western, eastern and northern areas will receive the owner of the falcon that has been hunted, using bait or a net to examine it (the bird), and document the process. The club will provide housing and transportation for the owners of falcons (hunters) to the auction site. The falcon will be put on sale during a live, competitive and fast auction broadcast on television and various club accounts on social media platforms. The sale and purchase process will be free of charge.”
He explained that, once a falcon was sold, the buyer would receive an export certificate and an electronic chip would be inserted into the falcon, in addition to official documents being issued to complete the sale.

HIGHLIGHT

The club’s first official auction, which was held last year, had sales exceeding SR10 million ($2.6 million). Its success and large turnout paved the way for the International Falcon Breeders Auction. The auction concluded on Sept. 5, with record sales achieved over 32 days, amounting to SR8 million for 443 falcons.

The 45-day event will see the sale of rare and distinctive falcons that have been hunted during their annual migration.
It coincides with the International Saudi Falcons and Hunting Exhibition, which runs from Oct. 1-10 at the club’s headquarters.
The exhibition is the largest of its kind for falcons, hunting and falcon accessories. It will have display areas, weapon pavilions, art and family interaction sections, shooting fields, a falconer of the future area, as well as a digital museum and heritage events.
The club’s first official auction, which was held last year, had sales exceeding SR10 million ($2.6 million).
Its success and large turnout paved the way for the International Falcon Breeders Auction. The auction concluded on Sept. 5, with record sales achieved over 32 days, amounting to SR8 million for 443 falcons.
Only vaccinated people can take part in the second auction. A range of precautionary measures will be applied to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

 


DiplomaticQuarter: Maldives ambassador praises Saudi Arabia support for development projects

Maldives Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mohamed Khaleel. (Supplied)
Maldives Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mohamed Khaleel. (Supplied)
Updated 4 min 55 sec ago

DiplomaticQuarter: Maldives ambassador praises Saudi Arabia support for development projects

Maldives Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mohamed Khaleel. (Supplied)
  • The King Salman Mosque will be the largest in the country and is set to open early next year before the holy month of Ramadan

Maldives Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mohamed Khaleel expressed the pride of his country’s government and people in the distinguished ties with the Kingdom, praising its support to development projects in his country.
Khaleel told Arab News: “Over the years, Maldives has been recipient to multiple loan facilities from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Fund for Development has provided loan facilities for various developmental projects, including for airport development and expansion, reconstruction and development of the Gaafu Alifu region and the Hulhumale region development project.”
The $50 million agreement signed by Maldives with the SFD is for two loan facilities of $25 million each. One will cover the affordable housing scheme project; the other will work on the development of a fisheries sector project.
“Affordable housing is the most pressing basic necessity for the Maldivian population at the moment. This loan facility will help us meet a part of the current housing needs. The fisheries industry is the second-largest economic industry in the Maldives after tourism. However, there are limitations to the production of fisheries value-added products due to the constraints of the production infrastructure.
“The development brought to the fisheries sector by this loan is an investment for the long-term economic growth of the Maldives,” the envoy added.
Khaleel said that both of these projects reflect the strengthening of the Maldivian people and their communities.
He also referred to the construction of the King Salman Mosque, which is being built with a donation from Saudi Arabia.
“It will be the largest mosque in the country and will stand as a true symbol of the brotherly relations between Maldives and Saudi Arabia. The mosque will also stand as a historical monument to commemorate the golden jubilee of Maldives’ independence. We are looking forward to the completion of the mosque and the visit of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to officially inaugurate the mosque,” the envoy said.
The King Salman Mosque will be the largest in the country and is set to open early next year before the holy month of Ramadan. The mosque was funded by King Salman, who has donated approximately $25 million to its construction. The mosque consists of six floors and can accommodate more than 10,000 worshippers. It includes multi-purpose halls, an international library, a center for teaching the Holy Qur’an, classrooms, and a conference hall. The mosque consists of 5 minarets representing the five pillars of Islam.


Saudi air defenses intercept Houthi drone launched toward Khamis Mushait

Saudi air defenses intercept Houthi drone launched toward Khamis Mushait
Updated 22 September 2021

Saudi air defenses intercept Houthi drone launched toward Khamis Mushait

Saudi air defenses intercept Houthi drone launched toward Khamis Mushait
  • Earlier on Wednesday, the Kingdom’s air defenses destroyed two other drones launched toward the southern region

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s defenses intercepted and destroyed an explosive-laden drone launched by Yemen’s Houthi militia toward the Kingdom’s southern region, the Arab coalition said on Wednesday.
It added that the drone was targeting the city of Khamis Mushait.
The coalition that it is monitoring the Iran-backed group’s drone activity and is taking strict measures to protect civilians.
Earlier on Wednesday, the coalition said the Kingdom’s air defenses destroyed two booby-trapped drones launched by the Houthis toward Khamis Mushait.
The UAE and Bahrain strongly condemned the attacks and affirmed their solidarity with the Kingdom in all measures it takes to protect its security and the safety of its citizens and residents.


Saudi king and crown prince receive National Day cables from Gulf leaders

Saudi king and crown prince receive National Day cables from Gulf leaders
Updated 22 September 2021

Saudi king and crown prince receive National Day cables from Gulf leaders

Saudi king and crown prince receive National Day cables from Gulf leaders
  • The Kingdom will mark its 91st National Day on Thursday

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Wednesday received a congratulatory cable from King Hamad of Bahrain, on the occasion of the Kingdom’s 91st National Day.
King Hamad expressed his greetings to King Salman, wishing him good health, happiness and long life, and, to the Saudi people, further progress and prosperity under his leadership.
He praised the depth of relations that bind the two countries and the continuous development and growth they are witnessing.
King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received similar congratulatory cables from Prince Salman bin Hamad, crown prince and prime minister of Bahrain.
The Kingdom will mark National Day on Thursday.
Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah congratulated King Salman and affirmed the solidity and depth of the strong ties that link Kuwait and the Kingdom. He also praised the outstanding development achievements witnessed by Saudi Arabia.
King Salman received two separate cables from Kuwaiti Crown Prince Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.
Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq sent King Salman a cable, wishing him good health, happiness and a long life, and more progress and prosperity for the Saudi people.
Meanwhile, Prince Mohammed bin Salman received similar cables from his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Mishaal, and from Kuwait’s Defense Minister Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah.