Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a syringe are seen in front of a displayed Pfizer logo. Reuters
Saudi Arabia on Thursday approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech novel coronavirus vaccine, state media reported, becoming the second Gulf country after Bahrain to green-light the drug.
"The Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA)... has approved the registration of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia," it said in a statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency.
"Health authorities in the kingdom can import and use the vaccine," it added.
The SFDA did not specify when it would begin the rollout of the vaccine by US pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.
Last week, Bahrain announced it had approved the emergency use of the same vaccine. Britain and Canada have also approved it.
The SFDA said it will analyse samples from "each incoming vaccine shipment before using it" to ensure quality standards.
Saudi Arabia has so far recorded nearly 360,000 novel coronavirus cases, including more than 6,000 deaths.
Along with Health Minister Tawfiq Al Rabiah, a woman in a wheelchair and another man were among the first to be administered the vaccine at a centre in Riyadh, on Thursday.
The call came as the United States, the country worst hit by the virus, kickstarted the biggest vaccination drive in its history by giving the jab to a nurse in New York.
A nurse in New York became the first person in the US to be vaccinated when she received the Pfizer-BioNTech shot live on television.
This sparked some confusion — while an advisory panel recommended emergency use approval for Moderna's vaccine on Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to give the final verdict allowing distribution — expected later on Friday.
The Ministry called on the companies practicing such activities to enhance their awareness and knowledge on the risks of money laundering and keep pace with the government's efforts in this regard.
Five institutions in Dubai have come together to propagate kidney health with March having been observed globally as the “National Kidney Month” and March 11 (Thursday) as “World Kidney Day.”
The Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD) announced on Tuesday that all annual Ramadan tent permits in the Emirate of Dubai will be cancelled this year in compliance with government precautionary and preventive measures to stem the spread of COVID-19.