Bahrain to provide Covid-19 vaccinations free of charge

Kingdom has authorised the use of Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinopharm vaccines

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Bahrain will provide vaccinations against Covid-19 to the public for free, according to a directive by issued by the king, the state news agency said.

“A safe vaccine will be provided free of charge to all citizens and residents within the kingdom,” the Bahrain News Agency said, without elaborating on which vaccine would be offered.

Bahrain said last week that it had become the second nation in the world to grant an emergency-use authorisation to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine after the United Kingdom. It had already granted emergency-use authorisation for a vaccine made by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm and has inoculated about 6,000 people with it.

The Pfizer shots, a so-called “mRNA vaccine”, contain a piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to recognise the spiked protein on the surface of the coronavirus. The vaccine, administered in two doses over 21 days, was found to be 95 per cent effective during trials, the company said.

The Sinopharm vaccine is an "inactivated" shot made by growing the whole virus in a lab and then killing it. The UAE said this week that its trials had found the vaccine to be 86 per cent effective.

Bahrain plans to inoculate everyone 18 years and older in the kingdom at 27 different medical facilities, hoping to be able to vaccinate 10,000 people a day, the BNA reported late on Thursday. The country has a population of around 1.5 million people.

Meanwhile, Egypt said it had received its first shipment of the Sinopharm vaccine, which landed at Cairo’s international airport from the UAE on Thursday.

The Egyptian health ministry said the government will first vaccinate health care workers, particularly those who deal with Covid-19 cases.