Saudi Arabia approves mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines

Saudi MoH declares priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination

The Saudi Ministry of Health (MoH) announced that it will begin providing second doses of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines from different brands; which could possibly provide better protection; experts say.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Health Authority (Weqaya) authorized the mix-and-match approach for either the first or second dose of the vaccine after reviewing the findings of several medical studies that tested the safety and efficacy of administering doses from different brands.

The mix-and-match approach

Experts also have focused their research on the mix-and-match approach to COVID-19 vaccines; the result of which have proven benefits; triggering a more robust and longer-lasting immune response possibly protecting against emerging variants.The ministry added that it has inoculated more than 70 percent of the Kingdom’s adult population and more than 16.9 million doses of the vaccine have been administered across the Kingdom through 587 centers so far.

It also said that it will start giving the second dose of vaccines to individuals aged 50 years and above starting from Thursday; while it will continue to provide the first dose to those who have not yet not received it. The ministry said other age groups will be eligible to receive the second dose of the vaccine according to availability as it seeks to cover the largest possible segment of the population during the next period.

The Kingdom recorded 1;253 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday; bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 478;135.

Out of the total number of cases; 11;328 remain active and 1;472 people are also in critical condition; a decline of 15 in the past 24 hours.

The highest number of cases was recorded in Makkah region with 363; followed by the Eastern Province with 263 cases; Riyadh region with 165 cases; Asir with 159 cases; and Jazan with 105 cases. Jouf also reported only six cases.

Abide by guidelines

Thirteen new COVID-19-related deaths have raised the total number of fatalities to 7;716.

The MoH said that a further 1;043 patients had recovered from COVID-19; bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 459;091. The pandemic has affected 179;965;230 people globally and the death toll also has reached 3;899;068.

In addition; 85;027 new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests conducted in the past 24 hours have raised the number of tests conducted in the Kingdom to over 21.2 million.

The MoH reiterated its call on the public to adhere to the precautionary measures and abide by the guidelines; and encouraged residents in order to register for the vaccine.

Meanwhile; police in Najran said four people have been arrested in the region for violating quarantine instructions after they tested positive for coronavirus.

Inspection tours

Saudi Arabia has imposed penalties on those who disregard regulations enforced to prevent the spread of the virus; they are either fined up to SR200;000 ($53;330); face up to two years in prison; or have both sanctions imposed. Legal measures have been taken against those arrested and they will be referred to the Public Prosecution.

Authorities in the Eastern Province carried out 1;572 inspection tours on commercial and food establishments in markets; commercial centers and outlets; which resulted in the closure of seven facilities for violations of health measures. In Jeddah; authorities carried out 4;185 inspection tours to follow up on the compliance of commercial establishments with precautionary guidelines and measures; resulting in the closure of 25 facilities for violations.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs reopened nine mosques in five regions after temporarily evacuating and sterilizing them after nine people tested positive for coronavirus; bringing the total number of mosques closed and reopened after being sterilized to 1;636 within 137 days.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 180 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.90 million.