Vaccine ‘shows no unexpected side effects’: Saudi health official

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JEDDAH: All those so far administered the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine were “healthy and well” and showing no “unexpected” side effects, the Saudi Health Ministry tweeted on Tuesday.
And government officials urged citizens to register via the Sehaty app for vaccination against the virus.
Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, earlier rejected reports that a case of the new COVID-19 variant had been reported in the Kingdom but said studies continued to be carried out on the genetic sequencing of the virus.
While encouraging people to be vaccinated, the ministry pointed out that pregnant or breastfeeding women were among groups prohibited from taking the Pfizer-BioNTech treatment. Those suffering from severe allergic reactions requiring epinephrine injections were also barred from taking the vaccine.
Meanwhile, health officials on Tuesday held a scientific conference to discuss the latest developments surrounding the virus variant.
“So far, this mutated strain
of COVID-19 has not been detected in the Kingdom,” said Al-Aly, adding that a suspension of flights was aimed at reducing the possibility of people infected with the new strain entering
the country.
During the conference, Dr. Abdullah Assiri, infectious diseases consultant and assistant deputy minister for preventive health, said that thousands of mutations of COVID-19 had been recorded around the world without them showing to have had any significant effect on the speed or ferocity of the virus spread.
“The mutation recorded in the UK does not cause an increase in the death rate,” Assiri added.
The Saudi Center for Disease Prevention and Control has been conducting detailed studies into the whole genome sequence of
the virus.
The center’s CEO, Abdullah Algwizani, said the work was being done “by performing the genetic sequencing of positive cases coming from European countries or any country where the epidemic appeared.”
So far, there was insufficient data on the genetic and phenotypic structure of COVID-19 in the UK, said Dr. Ahmed Al-Jedai, assistant deputy minister for therapeutic affairs and professor of clinical pharmacy. “It has not yet been proven that this change affects the virus vaccine.”
He added that several mutations occur with the virus strain. “Mutations usually occur in many RNA viruses, such as influenza, and do not mean an increase in the severity or virulence of the virus or its resistance to drugs and vaccines.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday reported eight new COVID-19-related deaths taking the overall toll to 6,139.
There were 181 new cases reported in the Kingdom, meaning 361,359 people had now contracted the disease, and 2,971 active cases of which 404 patients were in a critical or serious condition.
According to the ministry, 64 of the newly recorded cases were in Riyadh, 36 in Makkah, and 12 in Madinah.
In addition, 160 more patients had recovered from COVID-19, increasing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 352,249.

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