2201120 covid-19 vaccine
Image Credit: AFP

Abu Dhabi: The Saudi Health Ministry announced Monday it would make the coronavirus vaccine available for free to all citizens and residents, a senior official told Saudi Al Ekhbariya TV.

Dr Abdullah Asiri, assistant undersecretary at the ministry, said Saudi Arabia would obtain vaccines through Covax, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator launched by the G20, and through companies outside of the consortium.

The ministry said it hoped the vaccines would cover 70 per cent of the Kingdom’s population by the end of 2021.

“One of the most important goals set by the G20 during Saudi Arabia’s G20 presidency is to support all-inclusive and equitable access to vaccines, diagnostic and treatment tools,” he added.

At a briefing on Friday during the G20 Riyadh Summit, Dr Abdullah Al Rabeeah, supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre said Saudi Arabia would be among the first countries to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr Al Rabeeah said the Kingdom had spent more than $200 million on vaccine and drug development.

King Salman ordered free coronavirus treatment for all citizens in March, when the pandemic hit.

Those under 16 are not eligible unless further studies prove it is effective.

Dr Asiri said a comprehensive vaccine distribution plan would “arrive in the coming weeks.”

Three vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have been found to be at least 70 per cent effective.

The ministry said Monday it had recorded 231 new infections of COVID-19, bringing the total number to 355,489, including 5,877 active cases receiving necessary medical care.

Some 445 new recoveries were recorded, bringing the total number of recoveries from the virus to 343,816. Sixteen new deaths have been reported, bringing the total deaths to 5,796.