Saudi Arabia hopes to have enough vaccines for 70% of population by end of 2021

Announcement comes after online G20 summit at weekend, which was hosted by Riyadh

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Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry said it hoped to have enough coronavirus vaccines to cover 70 per cent of the kingdom's population by the end of 2021.

During a speech on Al-Ekhbariya TV on Monday, Dr Abdullah Asiri, assistant undersecretary at the ministry, said coronavirus vaccines would be provided to all free of charge, under the direction of King Salman.

Dr Asiri 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.

Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine 70% effective

Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine 70% effective

“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 said.

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.

More than 58 million people have contracted Covid-19 globally and nearly 1.4 million have died from it.