Months after struggling with the many crises that resulted from the pandemic in terms of health systems and economic challenges, humanity is now feeling more optimistic about the near future, as several parasitical developers announced promising results of clinical trials of vaccines that are believed to prevent severe infections with the novel coronavirus.
Bracing for a brighter year in 2021, many countries have already started purchasing and distributing vaccines that are supposed to minimize the number of COVID19 cases over the next few months, as efforts to end the pandemic and combat the deadly virus have come to produce more than one successful shot.
The UK was the first country in the world to start giving vaccine shots to its most vulnerable groups, as healthcare workers and elderly individuals. The US, too, has started receiving vaccine shipments after its Food and Drug Administration FDA has approved using the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for distribution. But what about our part of the world?
This week, following the Health Ministry's announcement that it has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for emergency use, Saudi Arabia has called on all citizens and residents to register for getting the COVID19 vaccine through an online portal, so the distribution of the vaccine can be done in different prioritized phases, starting with individuals over 65 years old.
Last September, The Saudi Chemical Holding Company revealed plans to produce the Russian-developed Sputnik V vaccine for the Coronavirus, once it passes all requirements by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority.
While the UAE has been amongst the most active countries in supporting efforts to produce successful vaccines, through encouraging citizens and residents to tale part in clinical trials for the Chinese Sinopharm and the Russian Sputnik V vaccines over the last several months, the country has approved the Chinese jab and started distributing it in Abu Dhabi this week.
The UAE has also pledged to make the vaccine available to all citizens and residents in the country free of charge.
Bahrain was second country to approve Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine after UK. In addition to that, Bahrain will be using the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, reassuring all citizens and residents that the vaccine will be available for free for everyone in the country within the next few months.
Unlike the UAE and Bahrain, Kuwait has granted emergency use for the American-German Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine a few days ago and announced that the vaccine will be available in the country within 10 days.
Oman too has announced plans to roll-out vaccines for at least 40% of the population during the first phase of distribution, saying that the country's health ministry has successfully obtained 370k dozes of the vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech, of which 20k will arrive at the country before the end of 2020.
وزير الصحة لـ "عمان": تعاقدت السلطنة مع شركة «فايزر» بشكل مباشر وحجزت 370 ألف جرعة يصل السلطنة منها 20 ألف خلال الشهر الجاري فيما يصل الباقي مع بداية السنة القادمة pic.twitter.com/MfVFRwYiD9— شبكة الزاجل العمانية (@zajel_oman) December 2, 2020
Translation: "Omani Health Minister: The Sultanate has signed a direct deal with Pfizer to book 370k dozes, 20k of which will arrive this month while the rest will be obtained at the beginning of next year."
Approving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Qatari officials said they are expecting the first batch of COVID19 vaccine to arrive in the country before the end of December.
Even though Qatar has no plans of making the vaccine compulsory to everyone in the population, health officials said they will be following a priority plan to guarantee that the vaccine will be distributed for the elderly, individuals with chronic diseases, and healthcare workers first.
Despite successfully being able to drive COVID19 infections relatively lower over the last few weeks, after more than a month of sharp spikes, Jordan has announced approving the Pfizer/BioNTech for use in the country, saying that dozes of the vaccine are expected to arrive at the country in early February. The Jordanian government had previously announced a deal with Pfizer to buy at least 2 million jabs that "will be available to all citizens and residents in the country for free."
Last November, the Health Ministry official in charge of the kingdom’s COVID-19 response Wael Hayajneh highlighted Jordanian efforts to purchase the Moderna vaccine as well, even though he explained that quantities of dozes available are not yet disclosed to his team. Moreover, the Minister of Health Natheer Obeidat has revealed earlier this month Jordanian plans to acquire the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine, without providing any further details.
Egypt is in the process of recreating a COVID-19 vaccine from Chinese biopharmaceutical company, Sinovac Biotech. The plan is to produce it locally and distribute it throughout Africa.https://t.co/xnLIyg6cJu pic.twitter.com/IBxHGleFIa— CairoScene (@CairoScene) December 13, 2020
Months after taking part in clinical trials for the Chinese vaccine Sinopharma, Egypt has announced plans to produce it locally. The Egyptian health minister has also highlighted that her country has purchased 20 million doses of the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine, which will be available in the country during the first quarter of 2021.
Even though officials have not yet disclosed information over the vaccines approved for use in the country yet, Tunisia has announced purchasing 6 million doses of COVID19 vaccines, which makes up about half of the needed dose, for the country's population.
However, officials have noted that the country might not be able to make the vaccine available for the public before next April.
While the country continues to tackle the biggest death toll due to the pandemic, Iraqi officials had announced last August that they are discussing making reservations of vaccines to cover at least 20% of the population, without revealing names of companies they are contacting.
However, the UK ambassador to Iraq had disclosed an agreement with Iraq to provide the country with 8 million doses of the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine that is being produced in the UK.
Pledging to not use any vaccine until the World Health Organization announces approving a successful one, Algeria has promised its population that it will make the jab available in about a month, without endorsing any of the announced vaccines so far.
The Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdouk has announced securing more than 8 million doses of a vaccine that will be used in an emergency plan. However, his announcement didn't clarify the source of the vaccine, neither the date it's expected to arrive in Sudan.
Is the Pfizer vaccine the most suitable for a country such as #Lebanon? @firassabiad says that the #Pfizer product raises “a lot of logistical challenges” regarding storage, cost and distribution.— The Daily Star Lebanon (@DailyStarLeb) December 1, 2020
By @CreanRosabel https://t.co/G12nn7TcIv
Officials have announced signing a deal between the Lebanese government and the Pfizer/BioNTech to purchase 1.5 million doses of the vaccine for local use. However, December statements noted that the vaccine might not arrive in the country before at least 8 weeks.
Other Arab countries have not yet made any decision as to which vaccines they will be using, neither have they announced the timeline of distribution.
In an October statement, Syrian President Bashar al-Asad revealed that his country will be purchasing the Russian vaccine whenever it's available. However, the Syrian government has not provided any more recent updates since.
Earlier this week, health officials in the Palestinian Authorities announced that 4 million doses of the Russian vaccine will arrive in the country by the end of 2020, in efforts to tackle the pandemic.
Despite all of these announcements, fears are amounting that the poorer and disadvantaged countries will have to wait for several months or even years before they can obtain the coronavirus vaccine, which might aggravate their economic crises as they will not be able to resume normal economic activities anytime soon, especially that international organizations have been warning of developed, rich countries' attempts to hoard the vaccine.
If you had the choice, will you take a vaccine or not? Which vaccine will you try to get in case more than one was available in your country?
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