COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective for younger children, says Saudi health expert

With Pfizer's anti-COVID-19 vaccine found to be safe for children aged 5-11, Saudi Arabia's inoculation program for young children is now in progress. (SPA file photo)
With Pfizer's anti-COVID-19 vaccine found to be safe for children aged 5-11, Saudi Arabia's inoculation program for young children is now in progress. (SPA file photo)
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Updated 22 December 2021

COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective for younger children, says Saudi health expert

COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective for younger children, says Saudi health expert
  • Dr. Sameera Al-Jehani, a pediatric infectious diseases consultant, says young children will receive 10-microgram doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be administered 21 days apart

JEDDAH: Health authorities in Saudi Arabia began administering the COVID-19 vaccine to children between the ages of 5 and 11 on Tuesday.

The Saudi Food and Drug Authority approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for this age group last month, after the manufacturer satisfied the regulatory requirements by providing data showing it is safe for children.

Dr. Sameera Al-Jehani, a pediatric infectious diseases consultant, told Arab News: “The COVID-19 vaccination regimen, consisting of two 10-microgram doses of BNT162b2 (the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine) administered 21 days apart, was found to be safe, immunogenic and efficacious in children 5 to 11 years of age.”

The 10 microgram dose of the vaccine is lower than the 30 microgram dose given to older children and adults.

With COVID-19 cases once again spiking globally, and concerns about the rapid spread of the new omicron variant, a number of countries have begun to prioritize the vaccination of younger children. Several nations have approved the emergency use of the vaccine for the 5-11 age group, including France, the US, the UAE, Oman, Thailand, Germany, Spain and Canada.

The US Food and Drug Administration said on Oct. 29 that vaccine safety and effectiveness had been studied in a group of almost 3,100 children, and the immune response in those between the ages of 5 and 11 was comparable to that in people between the ages of 16 and 25. The vaccine was found to be 90.7 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US has recorded almost 2 million cases of COVID-19 among younger children. Although most children experience only mild symptoms they can pass on the virus to more vulnerable elderly relatives or people with underlying medical conditions.

“Without effective COVID-19 vaccines for this age group, children could potentially become ongoing reservoirs of infection and sources of newly emerging variants,” Al-Jehani said.

The Saudi Ministry of Health said that initially the vaccination effort for younger children will prioritize those considered vulnerable and at high risk from the virus.

“Direct benefits of preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection in children include protection against severe disease, hospitalizations and severe or long-term complications, such as MIS-C,” the ministry said. MIS-C is multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a condition in which parts of the body become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs.

“Indirect benefits include the likelihood of reduced transmission in the home and in school settings, including transmission affecting vulnerable persons, and safer in-person learning. COVID–19 associated school closures and quarantines also have social and economic costs for families and caregivers.

“Widespread vaccination across these age groups is therefore essential in ongoing efforts to curtail the pandemic," said Al-Jehani.

Saudi authorities reported 252 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. The total number of infections since the start of the pandemic now stands at 551,462. Two additional coronavirus-related deaths raised the total number of fatalities to 8,867.

The Ministry of Health said that of the cases that remain active, 30 patients are in critical condition. It added that a further 109 patients have recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 540,393.

More than 48.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered since the nation’s immunization campaign started, and more than 23 million people are fully vaccinated.

The ministry, which has set up 587 facilities across the Kingdom to administer the jabs, urged all who have not yet received a vaccine to get one. It also reiterated its calls for the public to adhere to precautionary measures and to register with the Sehhaty app to schedule vaccination.

Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have helped millions of people since the pandemic began.

Taakad centers provide COVID-19 testing for those with no or mild symptoms or who believe they have come into contact with an infected person, while Tetamman clinics offer treatment and advice to those with symptoms such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties. Appointments for both can be made through the ministry’s Sehhaty app.


Saudi’s Manga Productions fulfilling local artists’ dreams

Saudi’s Manga Productions fulfilling local artists’ dreams
Updated 19 August 2022

Saudi’s Manga Productions fulfilling local artists’ dreams

Saudi’s Manga Productions fulfilling local artists’ dreams
  • High quality content created, says CEO Essam Bukhary
  • Future’s Folktales season two, and a mobile game coming soon

RIYADH: It all began with a dream and now Manga Productions boasts its first anime movie, “The Journey,” which premiered in 2021, and is working on Future’s Folktales season two, and a mobile game that should be released this year.

Speaking on The Mayman Show, Dr. Essam Bukhary, CEO of the company, a subsidiary of the Mohammed bin Salman Foundation, or Misk, said he has fond memories of how it all started.

It was in 2017, the year the firm was founded, that the company decided to hold talks with a leading Japanese counterpart.

“So the first step was to negotiate with Toei Animation, convince them (of) the idea. They liked it. They accepted the offer. But we had one important condition in the contract. Which is providing opportunities for internship for Saudi talent,” explained Bukhary.

 

Initially a competition was held in the Arab world to determine which project to back.

The company met in Riyadh with Shimizu Shinji, a former board member of Toei Animation, who became the executive producer of “The Journey.”

After that meeting, Manga Productions started hiring the first group of artists from Saudi Arabia to work on the project.

The students were sent to become interns in Japan for two months. “After that, we hired them to start working hand in hand with our Japanese partners.

“In 2017, we signed the contract with Toei Animation during the Misk Global Forum to officially start the production of ‘The Journey’ movie,” said Bukhary.

 

Bukhary said the “high quality” film was made in Saudi and demonstrated the talent and commitment of the young artists.

He recalled how Manga Productions sent 1,300 retakes to Toei Animation, which led a board member to praise the team for producing such quality that “we don’t even think about in Japan.”

He said the movie was an amazing experience because it was a collaboration involving two companies with totally different cultures, languages, art styles, and even age. “Toei Animation’s experts were in their 50s and 60s where Manga Productions’ team were in their 20s and early 30s,” he explained.

 

The plot of the movie revolves around one man trying to defend his city, Makkah, against a huge army. The hero has a dark past but uses his skills to overcome his adversaries.

Manga Productions focuses on animation, video games, and comics. They have two offices, in Saudi Arabia and Japan.

Bukhary is also editor-in-chief for Manga Arabia and has a doctorate in technology and innovation management. He is also the co-chair of the executive committee of the Mohammed bin Salman Center for Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo.

 


Saudi Arabia relief agency launches food security project for refugees in Jordan

Saudi Arabia relief agency launches food security project for refugees in Jordan
Updated 19 August 2022

Saudi Arabia relief agency launches food security project for refugees in Jordan

Saudi Arabia relief agency launches food security project for refugees in Jordan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s relief work for Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Jordan continues with the launch of a food security project for the displaced living outside camps

The Kingdom’s latest project, through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), aims to help refugee families and the neediest people in the host community, and contributing to improving their living conditions, according to a report from state news agency SPA.

Among KSRelief’s efforts for refugees in Jordan includes a $1.33 million agreement with the King Hussein Cancer Foundation to treat Syrians diagnosed with cancer; a $2 million accord with the National Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition to boost food security for poor families as well as a pact with the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization to provide housing and utilities support for 22 Syrian families involving 109 individuals.


Saudi Arabia reiterates gratitude for Uzbekistan’s support of Expo 2030 bid 

Saudi Arabia reiterates gratitude for Uzbekistan’s support of Expo 2030 bid 
Updated 19 August 2022

Saudi Arabia reiterates gratitude for Uzbekistan’s support of Expo 2030 bid 

Saudi Arabia reiterates gratitude for Uzbekistan’s support of Expo 2030 bid 

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman thanked Uzbekistan for supporting Riyadh’s bid to host the World Expo 2030, during a meeting with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported citing a joint statement. 

The meeting between the two leaders, held in Jeddah on Wednesday, reviewed the countries’ relations and ways to enhance bilateral ties, a joint statement between the two countries said. 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Mirziyoyev also emphasized the importance of exploring investment opportunities between their two countries, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals and Uzbekistan’s development goals.


Uzbekistan’s President performs Umrah during official trip to Saudi Arabia

Uzbekistan’s President performs Umrah during official trip to Saudi Arabia
Updated 19 August 2022

Uzbekistan’s President performs Umrah during official trip to Saudi Arabia

Uzbekistan’s President performs Umrah during official trip to Saudi Arabia

MAKKAH: The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev performed the Umrah pilgrimage on Thursday, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. 

The president was received by several officials from the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque and from the Special Force for the Security of the Grand Mosque upon his arrival. 

Mirziyoyev’s official press service shared photos from the president’s pilgrimage on Twitter. 

 

The Uzbek president had arrived in Jeddah on Wednesday, where he was received by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

The pair held a meeting and discussed bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields, in addition to reviewing a number of issues of common interest. 


Saudi crown prince receives Iraq’s Wisdom Movement leader

Saudi crown prince receives Iraq’s Wisdom Movement leader
Updated 19 August 2022

Saudi crown prince receives Iraq’s Wisdom Movement leader

Saudi crown prince receives Iraq’s Wisdom Movement leader
  • The pair discussed Saudi-Iraqi relations and issues of mutual interest

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received in Jeddah Iraq’s National Wisdom Movement leader Ammar Al-Hakim, the Saudi Press Agency reported early Friday.

The pair discussed Saudi-Iraqi relations and issues of mutual interest.

Al-Hakim arrived in Jeddah on Wednesday and was received by deputy minister of foreign affairs Waleed Al-Khuraiji.

Saudi and Iraqi senior officials attended the meeting.