Mohammed bin Salman receives first shot of Covid vaccine

Saudi Crown Prince's public vaccination hailed by the kingdom's Ministry of Health

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

The vaccination was carried out by Ministry of Health officials and captured on camera.

The Saudi Minister of Health, Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah, extended his "thanks and gratitude" to the Crown Prince for his determination to provide vaccines to all Saudi Arabians.

"What we are witnessing today is among the gains materialised in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the pandemic," he said.

Dr Al-Rabiah also drew a comparison between the country's Covid response and the framework laid out in the kingdom's economic reform plan Vision 2030 which is guided by the mantra that "Prevention is better than a cure".

The Saudi health minister was himself vaccinated on December 17, a day after the kingdom received its first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Saudi health authorities approved the 95 per cent-effective vaccine from the US-German partnership on December 10.

Vaccination stations have been set up throughout the kingdom, and 50,000 people registered to receive the vaccine in the 24 hours after the minister urged Saudis and residents to sign up for it on the health ministry app.

"Over the last nine months, I anxiously watched the number of registered cases. But today, I’ll be happily watching the number of those who are vaccinated," Dr Al Rabiah said at the time.

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

Registration to get the vaccine has already started through the Tawakulna application for vulnerable groups identified by the health ministry.

Dr Abdullah Asiri, assistant undersecretary at the ministry, said they would be obtained through global vaccine programme Covax and provided free of charge to all under the direction of King Salman.

For developing countries that lack the resources to buy large quantities of vaccine, the World Health Organisation created the Covax scheme in partnership with the Gavi Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi).

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