In this Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020 file photo, senior Clinical Research Nurse Ajithkumar Sukumaran prepares the COVID-19 vaccine to administer to a volunteer, at a clinic in London. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: Saudi Arabia’s Pharmaceutical Industries and Medical supplies Corporation (Spimaco) signed a non-binding agreement with CureVac, a German pharmaceutical company, to make its coronavirus vaccine available to Saudi citizens and expat residents.

The agreement, which comes withing the Kingdom’s continuous efforts to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, is the second signed with the aim of making the vaccine available to everyone in the Kingdom. Officials have already reached an agreement with a Russian pharmaceutical company.

Under the agreement, CureVac will supply Saudi Arabia with coronavirus vaccine for distribution in the Kingdom.

Spimaco will apply for the necessary approvals from the Ministry of Health and the Saudi Food and Drug Authority for all requirements related to the registration, supply and distribution of the vaccine, and then the final agreement on the commercial terms.

The German company said in a statement published on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) website that the vaccine is distinguished by its routine storage conditions of 2-8 degrees Celsius, which facilitates transportation and storage.

Mohammed Al Sultan, CEO of Spimaco, said that CureVac conducted successful Phase I dose-finding clinical trials and reached promising results to proceed to the phase IIb/III clinical trial, aiming to submit the registration file to the European Medicines Agency during the first quarter of 2021, according to the plan set by the company.

The agreement included the possibility of extending the supply and distribution rights later to also include the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

Dr. Abdullah Asiri, deputy minister of health, announced last week that the ministry will provide the coronavirus vaccine free of charge to all citizens and expatriates in the Kingdom, and that the plan aims to provide vaccinations to 70 per cent of the Kingdom’s population who were not exposed to the virus by the end of 2021.

The Saudi-German agreement is the second after the Saudi Chemical Holding Group had signed in September this year a MoU, through its pharmaceutical sector represented by the AJA Pharmaceutical Industries Co. (AJA Pharma) and the Saudi International Trading Company (SITCO Pharma), with the Russian Direct Investment Fund, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, to provide and distribute the vaccine.