The Health Ministry has revised the administration policy of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University in collaboration with AstraZeneca.
According to SAPM on Health, Dr. Faisal Sultan, AstraZeneca’s vaccine will now be administered to all citizens who are aged above 18 and want to travel to Saudi Arabia for work.
Speaking to a news channel, Dr. Faisal said that eligible citizens can get the AstraZeneca vaccine after showing relevant documents at Mass Vaccination Centers for COVID-19 across the country.
Last month, the Health Ministry restricted the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine for people aged under 40 after more than a dozen countries, mostly in Europe, suspended the use of the vaccine after a number of recipients suffered an extremely rare and fatal brain clotting disorder known as Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis (CVST).
Saudi Arabia has approved only four COVID-19 vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson – for use in the country.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia also barred foreigners from entering the country who have received the following Chinese COVID-19 vaccines; Sinopharm, Sinovac, CanSinoBIO, and Anhui Zhifei Longcom.
On the other hand, Pakistan has approved six vaccines. Three of them are Chinese– Sinopharm, Sinovac, and CanSinoBIO– while the remaining are made by Russia, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer.
However, Chinese COVID-19 vaccines have mostly been administered in Pakistan under the ongoing mass vaccination campaign.
Although Pakistan has also received Pfizer’s vaccine, a special clause in the agreement with COVAX, a global initiative aimed at equitable access to Coronavirus vaccines led by GAVI, forced the government to limit the use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 to only people with weak immune systems.
This made AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine the last hope of Pakistani workers with valid work visas of entering the oil-rich Middle Eastern country for work purposes.
Recently, thousands of Saudi-bound overseas workers protested all over Pakistan and demanded the government to vaccinate them with AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, forcing the Health Ministry to revise the guidelines regarding the use of the vaccine.