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.


KSrelief begins food, aid distribution in Yemen’s flood-hit Al-Mahra province 

KSrelief begins food, aid distribution in Yemen’s flood-hit Al-Mahra province 
Updated 59 min 42 sec ago

KSrelief begins food, aid distribution in Yemen’s flood-hit Al-Mahra province 

KSrelief begins food, aid distribution in Yemen’s flood-hit Al-Mahra province 
  • Al-Mahra, among other southern and eastern governorates, witnessed heavy rains in the past few days

Dubai: King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) began its aid efforts in Yemen’s Al-Mahra governorate on Saturday by distributing emergency food aid to people affected by the torrential rains and floods. 
The center distributed 100 food baskets containing basic materials, benefiting 1,092 people.
Al-Mahra, among other southern and eastern governorates, witnessed heavy rains in the past few days. 
KSrelief’s immediate intervention comes as part of its continuous efforts to aid and support Yemeni people in different crises.


Prizewinning Saudi student speaks of journey to competition success

Lama won gold at the Gulf Physics Olympiad and a bronze each at the international and Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiads. (SPA)
Lama won gold at the Gulf Physics Olympiad and a bronze each at the international and Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiads. (SPA)
Updated 13 August 2022

Prizewinning Saudi student speaks of journey to competition success

Lama won gold at the Gulf Physics Olympiad and a bronze each at the international and Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiads. (SPA)
  • Lama Al-Ahdal scooped medals in Physics Olympiads and made her country proud

JEDDAH: Prizewinning Saudi student Lama Al-Ahdal, who has been scooping medals at Physics Olympiads, says her competition success motivates her to continue with her passion and achieve great things for the Kingdom.

She won gold at the Gulf Physics Olympiad, a bronze at the International Physics Olympiad, and a bronze at the Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiad.

Al-Ahdal spoke to the Saudi Press Agency about the beginning of her journey in the Physics Olympiad through the Mawhoob Competition, which she took part in several times.

It was her participation in 2018 that led to her nomination to attend training forums, a path that would eventually lead her to victory.

“I started attending basic courses in Jeddah, through which I qualified and passed the required tests. I was nominated for the Winter Forum at Princess Nourah University in Riyadh, then trained with the physics team, from which a number of students in the Kingdom would qualify to form the Saudi team for the Physics Olympiad.

HIGHLIGHT

It was her participation in 2018 that led to her nomination to attend training forums, a path that would eventually lead her to victory.

“At the beginning of 2019, we underwent intense eight-hour training, both remotely and at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, to prepare for international competitions. I learned how to calculate the strength of the Earth's magnetic field using a string and two pieces of magnets, how electricity can be generated by heating two pieces of metal, how to measure the thickness of a candy wrapper using a laser, and other scientific experiments.

“The top five students were then nominated to represent the Kingdom, and thankfully I made it and snatched the gold medal in the Gulf Physics Olympiad, the bronze medal in the Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiad, and the bronze medal in the International Physics Olympiad.”

Joining the Saudi physics team and undergoing training helped her to discover that physics was a beautiful subject. “I learned a lot from it and the Olympiad experience.”

Her participation increased her skills and developed her thinking by getting to know competitors from different countries.

“I also developed my time management skills since the training continued even during school days. My father and mother had a major role in helping me achieve my goals and encouraging me to try new things to gain more skills and learn more,” she said.

Setting a specific goal and working to achieve it was the most important thing that motivated her to take up the challenge and try new things.

Her father, Abdul Rahman Al-Ahdal, said his daughter’s journey was full of scientific challenges.

“She has always been a talented child and a bright student, with a  promising future ahead of her. God blessed her with a group of highly experienced trainers and supervisors. It is important to focus and draw a plan and work to achieve it.

“I thank King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, and everyone responsible for helping the sons and daughters of the Kingdom partake in forums of creativity, innovation and scientific Olympiad, and other scientific activities.”


Visitors take a trip to Saudi Arabia’s Taif to rejuvenate in nature

The popular tourist location has a number of hotels and resorts designed and built to fit in with the natural landscape. (SPA)
The popular tourist location has a number of hotels and resorts designed and built to fit in with the natural landscape. (SPA)
Updated 13 August 2022

Visitors take a trip to Saudi Arabia’s Taif to rejuvenate in nature

The popular tourist location has a number of hotels and resorts designed and built to fit in with the natural landscape. (SPA)
  • The region has more than 2,000 flower farms that produce more than 200 million roses every season

TAIF: Visitors from all over the Kingdom and the Gulf are flocking to Taif this summer to get respite from the heat and rejuvenate in the region’s mountains.

The popular tourist location has a number of hotels and resorts designed and built to fit in with the natural landscape, several of which are also working farms or have beautiful gardens planted with the famous Taif roses and wild plants including basil, al-baitran, and marjoram.

Tourists and visitors can also stay in cozy, rural hostels made of old stone ornamented with carvings and sculptures of animals, where they can enjoy stunning views of the mountains and valleys of Taif, which are home to a variety of rare birds.

The city and other nearby areas such as Al-Hada and Al-Shifa are also famous for their fruits.

The region has more than 2,000 flower farms that produce more than 200 million roses every season. Taif roses have historic, economic and religious importance. The oil is used to perfume the walls of the Kaaba, which is also washed twice annually with its scented water.

Besides basking in nature, visitors to Taif can also visit museums, local markets, rose factories in Al-Shafa and Al-Hada, the cable car, a strawberry farm, the zoo, and historic castles.

 


 


Saudi forces and US marines begin joint training exercise in Yanbu

Saudi forces and US marines begin joint training exercise in Yanbu
Updated 14 August 2022

Saudi forces and US marines begin joint training exercise in Yanbu

Saudi forces and US marines begin joint training exercise in Yanbu
  • The month-long drill includes logistical exercises and operations with live ammunition

RIYADH: The Royal Saudi Armed Forces and US Marine Corps on Saturday launched a joint training exercise along the Red Sea coast in the western city of Yanbu, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense said.

The “Outrageous Anger 22” exercise was inaugurated in the presence of Maj. Gen. Ahmed Al-Dibais, commander of the western sector, and Maj. Gen. Paul Rock, commander of the Marine Corps at the US Central Command, as well as senior officers from the Saudi armed forces and US Army.

An inspection tour included sites where the two forces will conduct the joint operations.

Col. Saud Al-Aqili, commander of the exercise, said that it aims to rehearse implementation of bilateral operational and logistical plans, exchange expertise between the two sides, and develop complementary work with civil authorities.

Col. Matthew Hakula, commander of the US forces, said that the joint maneuvers will raise combat readiness, as well as strengthen compatibility between Saudi and US troops.

The month-long drill includes logistical exercises and operations with live ammunition.


Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Alotaibi, director of SMEs Training for Capacity Building at Monsha’at

Abdulrahman Alotaibi
Abdulrahman Alotaibi
Updated 13 August 2022

Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Alotaibi, director of SMEs Training for Capacity Building at Monsha’at

Abdulrahman Alotaibi

Abdulrahman Alotaibi has been the director of SMEs Training for Capacity Building at the General Authority for Small and Medium Size Enterprises, also known as, Monsha’at, since 2020.

Alotaibi’s current role includes overseeing the development of capacity-building solutions for SMEs and entrepreneurs through Monsha’at Academy’s online, local and international programs.

These programs support the Saudi business community by offering specialized skills in entrepreneurship, business planning, financial management and marketing.

Alotaibi started his career in Saudi Aramco in 2006 and held various roles in operations, accounting and planning.

He later joined the Saudi Export Development Authority in 2017 as an exporters training manager. He led numerous projects and programs to help Saudi companies to access and develop international markets.

Alotaibi holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from King Abdulaziz University and a master’s in business administration from Al-Yamamah University.

He is a certified global business professional from NASBITE International and also certified in market analysis tools by the UN’s International Trade Center, ITC.  

In 2021, he published a book titled “Export Business Development —  A Guide to International Markets.” The work provides the necessary knowledge and best practices to help business people to develop and execute global business plans, evaluate opportunities, manage market challenges and grow international sales.

Working closely with various businesses and trade support organizations, Alotaibi has delivered workshops and advisory sessions in export and international trade. He also contributes to newspapers and other business media outlets.